American Civil Liberties Union, Cato Institute, Pro-football, Inc. (Washington Redskins), and Other Unexpected Allies Join The Slants in Pending Trademark Case Before the U.S. Court Of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Court
June 24th, 2015 – Portland, Ore. — On Thursday, June 18th, multiple organizations filed amiscus curiae, or unsolicited legal briefs, in support of Portland, Oregon-based Asian American dance-rock band, The Slants, and their pending case before the U.S Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The unexpected result included bi-partisan support from the American Civil Liberties Union, The Cato Institute, The Rutherford Institute, and Pro-Football, Inc. (The Washington Redskins), who argue that The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) violated the band’s rights.
The historic case began nearly half a decade ago, when the Trademark Office rejected the band’s trademark registration application, claiming that the name was disparaging to persons of Asian descent. Since then, it has sparked a national conversation on the role of government intervention, self-determination, and freedom of speech. After multiple appeals, the band finally argued before a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit but did not prevail. In a surprise move, the court vacated that decision one week later, ordering the case to be heard en banc (before all judges of the court) on whether or not the Trademark Office’s laws on disparagement violate First Amendment rights.