Supreme Court ruling upholds right to “offensive” trademarks

Ruling could affect Native American-themed team trademarks

FILE - In this April 4, 2017, file photo, the Supreme Court Building is seen in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

TURNERS FALLS, Mass. (WWLP) – The Supreme Court ruled against banning offensive trademarks in a court case on Monday. Monday, the court struck down part of a federal law denying trademarks if they are deemed to be offensive.

The court ruled 8-0 in favor of an Asian-American rock band called The Slants. The group wanted to trademark their name, which critics said is insulting to people of Asian descent.

The court found that registering a trademark is protected under the Constitution as freedom of speech. Legal experts say that the Washington Redskins trademark could be accepted based on this result.

Native American mascots remain highly controversial, and the Gill-Montague Regional School Committee is in the process of changing the Turners Falls High School Indians nickname.

“It can disrespect another person or another upbringing or a person’s culture, but in the end, we all need to realize we’re here together, and this is the United States of America,” Samuel Duncan of Turners Falls said.

The school committee approved criteria for a new mascot in May. They want the name to be non gender-specific, and not represent a specific group[ based on race, religion, or culture. The school colors will also remain blue and white.

The committee will meet Tuesday night to come up with a process for making a new selection using these criteria.

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