29. JOSEPH MATAL v. TAM.docx - JOSEPH MATAL INTERIM DIRECTOR UNITED STATES PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE PETITIONER v SIMON SHIAO TAM FACTS Simon Tam lead

29. JOSEPH MATAL v. TAM.docx - JOSEPH MATAL INTERIM...

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JOSEPH MATAL, INTERIM DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE , PETITIONER v. SIMON SHIAO TAM FACTS: Simon Tam, lead singer of the rock group “The Slants” (‘slants’ or ‘slant-eyes’), sought federal registration of the mark “THE SLANTS” for their band name. “Slants” is a derogatory term for persons of Asian descent, and members of the band are Asian-Americans. He chose this moniker in order to “reclaim” the term and drain its denigrating force as a derogatory term for Asian persons. The Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) denied the application under a Lanham Act provision prohibiting the registration of trademarks that may “disparage . . . or bring . . . into contempt or disrepute” any “persons, living or dead.” Tam contested the denial of registration through the administrative appeals process, to no avail. He then took the case to federal court, where the en banc Federal Circuit ultimately found the disparagement clause facially unconstitutional under the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause.

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