The Redskins had its registrations repealed in 2014 by the trademark office because the office thought the team's name and mascot disparaged Native Americans.
The team said in a statement Monday that it is "thrilled" with the ruling in the Tam case, which it believes "resolves the Redskins' long-standing dispute with the government".
The group conceded the decision means the Washington Redskins' trademark registration will not be cancelled. The court did so on the basis of the First Amendment's free speech clause, which prohibits the government from restricting speech based on the viewpoint or ideas expressed in the speech. Tam has said he does not like the Washington team's name.
But was it? While it is encouraging that the Supreme Court can unanimously protect free speech as more important than not offending someone, at least in the case of The Slants, some of Alito's comments are troubling to those who recognize that the Constitution forbids Congress from making any law abridging the freedom of speech. The USPTO viewed the name as a racial slur but the musicians argued they were trying to reclaim the term and diminish its offensiveness.
Another section of the brief, focused on the USPTO's contention that registered trademarks constitute government speech, also mentioned the Sex Pistols and Steely Dan (named after a dildo in William Burroughs's Naked Lunch).
FILE - In this April 4, 2017 file, the Supreme Court in Washington. The holders of controversial or disparaging trademarks, such as sports teams with Native American symbols, can sue or threaten to sue people who criticize the use of such marks. "But in my view it was just not possible to defend the statute". What's more, SCOTUS found that the disparagement clause of the Lanham Act was unconstitutional, as a trademark is technically not government speech, it's private speech. The case involves a very small corner of federal law, but implicates the broader logic of political correctness, which is that speech should be silenced for the greater good if there is a chance that someone, somewhere might be offended by it. It is now under attack by social justice warriors who claim that offensive language should be banned including the name of the NFL's Washington Redskins. But in the same way that the First Amendment allows the franchise to continue to choose to use the term, the First Amendment allows me and anyone else to continue to choose to not use it.
Blackhorse called the decision "disheartening" after 11 years of litigation.
"At the time, this page supported the Trademark Office's decision, and we still regard the Redskins name as offensive", the editorial board wrote.
Schiller, the intellectual property attorney at Boies Schiller Flexner in NY, is a lifelong fan of the team. "Now the Supreme Court says you can register offensive names".
In a statement after the Supreme Court's decision, the tribal council of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi said issues like health care, education, and safe and affordable housing are the most pressing issues but they are also committed to curbing offensive behavior.
But Amanda Blackhorse, a Navajo woman who has been the lead plaintiff in a yearslong legal fight against the team's name, said the fight is not over, adding that years of litigation have found that "the term is offensive". We can't be handing out scalpels on this subject until you figure out how to get everyone to agree on where you begin doing surgery.