By Erin Gormley
Summer is often a season for music, when music lovers listen to their favorite artists at concerts, in their backyards, and in their cars with the windows down. This summer, a U.S. Supreme Court case has caused music to become a place where freedom of speech and trademark law intersect.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that the rock band “The Slants,” made up of Asian-American musicians, cannot be barred from using that name, regardless of the potential of disparagement to Asian and Asian-American individuals. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (the “USPTO”) initially prohibited the band from registering the name “The Slants” as a trademark in classification 041 for “entertainment in the nature of live performances by a musical band” on the grounds that “the applied-for mark consists of or includes matter which may disparage or bring into contempt or disrepute persons, institutions, beliefs or national symbols.”