Saturday, August 5, 2017

Troubling fallout from Asian American band's legal victory

The Slants' Supreme Court victory spur trademark applications for racial slurs.


AFTER AN Asian/American band won a U.S. Supreme Court victory to trademark their controversial name in June, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has received applications for trademarking other derogatory terms such as the n-word, the Vox reports.
The Portland, Oregon-based Slants won their landmark case after they were rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office because their name was deemed offensive. The Slants said they use the name to reclaim the slur and represent the rights of marginalized communities in the U.S.

“We had called ourselves the Slants as a way of seizing control of a racial slur, turning it on its head and draining its venom,” frontman Simon Tam wrote in a New York Times op-ed.

RELATED: The Slants get to keep its name
The trademark office has since received a total of seven applications for versions of the n-word and one with a Chinese slur and emblem of the Nazi party.

Two entrepreneurs who applied for trademarking versions of the n-word claim it is an act of keeping it out of the hands of racist people, according to the Washington Post. Steve Maynard, an attorney in Alexandria, and Curtis Bordenave from Mississippi both applied for a trademark of the n-word after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Slants.

Bordenave wishes to use the word in “retail store services featuring clothing, books, music and general merchandise” to prevent groups from profiting off the word.

“If an individual organization tries to use it to gain finances for their organization . . . that is not something we think is right, we’re going to protect our mark,” Bordenave said to the Washington Post.

As a black male living in the South, Maynard was motivated to “censor” the word. He also filed to trademark the Nazi swastika.

“We hope to flood the market with T-shirts and clothing and end up opening up a discussion,” said Maynard.