Northwest quartet The Slants (above) are currently embroiled in a dispute with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, with the latter denying the band’s application for trademark protection on the grounds their chosen name is considered disparaging to a particular ethnic group (in this instance, one they’re part of). The Washington Post’s Robert Barnes points out that a victory for The Slants might establish precedent for the Washington Redskins, “whose legal battle to hold on to its revoked trademark has been put on hold pending the outcome.”
Slants band members abhor the Washington nickname and wince when the team’s fate is linked to their own.
“I don’t want to be associated with Dan Snyder,” founder Simon Tam said, referring to the team’s owner.
Indeed, the Redskins’ amicus brief in the case contains 18 pages of offensive-to-somebody registrations from the Patent and Trademark Office, beginning with Afro-Saxon clothing and working its way down to Yardapes landscaping.
In the team’s amicus brief, Washington lawyer Lisa S. Blatt argues that “the PTO has registered countless marks that meet the government’s exceptionally broad definition of disparagement, i.e., potentially demeaning to even a small segment of a race, gender or religious group.
“Just for musical bands, the PTO has registered White Trash Cowboys; Whores from Hell; N.W.A.; Cholos on Acid; Reformed Whores; The Pop Whores; Hookers & Blow; The Roast Beef Curtains; Flea Market Hookers; The Pricks and Barenaked Ladies.”