The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has now formally filed a petition seeking Supreme Court review of In re Tam, 117 USPQ2d 1001 (Fed. Cir. 2016). The subject of the appeal is a decision which found Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act to be unconstitutional as a violation of free speech.
In re Tam involved the refusal of the USPTO to register the trademark THE SLANTS because it was deemed to be disparaging to Asian-Americans. The party seeking trademark registration of THE SLANTS is an Asian-American rock band of the same name. If the Supreme Court grants review, the decision may have significant ramifications regarding the disparagement provision of the Lanham Act. It will also likely impact the cancellation proceedings regarding the WASHINGTON REDSKINS trademark, which is currently pending in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
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