On April 20, 2015, a Federal Circuit panel denied trademark registration for an Asian-American rock group’s name, the Slants, because the name is racially disparaging. Trademark law denies registration to marks that “may disparage … persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.” Federal courts and the Trademark Trial & Appeal Board have upheld denials of many trademarks on a “disparagement” basis. The denial of registration for the Washington Redskins name, which is currently on appeal, is one recent example, and this ruling probably holds significance for that pending case.
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In addition to Thriving Attorney, Darin M. Klemchuk is founder of Klemchuk LLP, a litigation, intellectual property, and transactional law firm located in Dallas, Texas. He also co-founded Project K, a charity devoted to changing the world one random act of kindness at a time. Click to read more about Darin Klemchuk's practice as an intellectual property lawyer.