The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear the case of Oregon band "The Slants," which is fighting to trademark its "offensive" name. The band's request was declined after concerns were raised that its name is disparaging to Asian-Americans.
The band, which mostly has Asian-American members, said that it wanted to "reappropriate" the meaning of the word and chose the name to take back the racial epithet. The Slants filed a lawsuit after their first attempt to register their band name in 2011 was rejected.
The Slants "was following in the long tradition of 'reappropriation,' in which members of minority groups have reclaimed terms that were once directed at them as insults and turned them outward as badges of pride," a lawyer for bandleader Simon Tam reportedly said.
The court's ruling in the case could have implications for the American football team, the Washington Redskins, whose six trademark registrations previously granted were canceled after years of complaints from Native American groups.
Lawyers for the Redskins have contended that the team's name is merely a form of entertainment, and "stand on equal footing with those of The Lion King, Comedy Central, The Beatles, New York Times, New York City Ballet and Metropolitan Museum of Art."
The Redskins have also urged the court to declare the law unconstitutional as its standards are unclear. The team questioned the law as the trademark office has given the green light to names such as Yellowman, Red Man and Black Tail.
"The countless offensive marks that the PTO (Patent and Trademark Office) has already registered — many within the last twelve months — suggests that the government’s interest is, at best, vastly overstated," the football team reportedly said.
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear The Slants' case beginning next week and the hearings are expected to last several months. Its ruling in this case could directly impact the Washington Redskins case.