Washington Redskins NFL Football Team Weighs In On Derogatory Trademarks

The Washington Redskins NFL football team have a filed an amicus brief in the case of a trademark application for the name THE SLANTS for an Asian-American rock band.  In THE SLANTS case, the Federal Circuit upheld a Trademark Trial and Appeal Board decision rejecting the application for THE SLANTS as it was a derogatory mark toward Asians.  The Redskins have filed a friend of the court brief as the team has had many of its trademarks cancelled as being derogatory towards American Indians.  However, the fact that the marks were cancelled does not mean that the Redskins cannot use the mark.  Rather it means that they do not receive federal protection on the mark.  The issue under Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, the law covering federal trademarks, raises First Amendment concerns about what one can say through their trademark.  The Federal Circuit in April voted to rehear the case en banc.