Wednesday August 26, 2015

U.S. courts sides with The Slants — band free to trademark controversial name

The Slants, an Asian-American dance rock band, have been fighting to trademark their name since 2011.

The Slants, an Asian-American dance rock band, have been fighting to trademark their name since 2011. (The Slants)

Listen 16:32

UPDATE (DEC. 22, 2015): As reported by NPR, a federal appeals court has voted 10-2 in favour of The Slants, claiming that their name constitutes free speech protected by the First Amendment and thus can't be regulated by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. 


ORIGINAL: Musician Simon Tam has been trying to get his band's name trademarked for almost five years. So what's the holdup?

Well, the band is an Asian-American dance rock group who call themselves The Slants — and the US Trademark and Patent Office says that name is too racist to trademark.

The office made a similar ruling last month when they cancelled the trademark registration to the Washington Redskins' name, saying that the moniker is disparaging to Native Americans. But Tam says that 92% of the Asian-Americans surveyed by the band's legal team support their use of the name The Slants.

Tam joins Shad to discuss the ongoing legal battle and what it says about the way we talk about race and racism.