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Battle of the Band name

Asian-American band The Slants can't trademark their name because it's "offensive"

Asian-American band The Slants can’t trademark their name because it’s “offensive”

This segment originally aired Jan. 18, 2016, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.

The Supreme Court recently heard arguments about whether the name of a small rock group is too offensive to be registered as a trademark.

The band is called “The Slants,” but the members are all Asian and say they’re taking back the slur and exercising free speech. The government thinks the band being Asian actually makes the name more offensive. The Supreme Court’s decision could reverberate beyond the band’s case, potentially impacting the Washington Redskins’ ability to own the rights to their name.

“The word ‘Jap’ is registered multiple times, same thing with ‘Slope,’ ‘Slant,’ ‘Gook,’ ‘Oriental.’ All those are registered. Dozens and dozens of them exist,” The Slants bassist Simon Tam told VICE News correspondent Dexter Thomas in Baltimore, MD. “Most of them are held by Caucasian people who either are using it, quote-unquote, in ‘a neutral sense’ or in a denigrating sense.”

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