A Portland rock band called the Slants this week will file a lawsuit challenging a federal decision denying their trademark application. The US Patent and Trademark Office says the band can’t trademark its name, because it’s an ethnic slur.
Slants founder Simon Tam says the band needs a trademark, and should not have to change its brand.
“I think it’s almost ludicrous Asian-Americans are almost the only people who can’t use the term,” Tam says. “There’ve been almost 800 applications have gone before the trademark office for the term ‘slant’. Never, never have they said it was a disparaging term until an Asian applied.”
Tam points out, everyone in the band is Asian, and they’re not offended. While this began as a business move, Tam says he and the band are pressing the point on principle.
In a September ruling affirming the initial decision, a government patent attorney wrote that while the entire band may be willing to take on the disparaging term as a name… [that] does not mean that all Asian-Americans share the band’s view.
The Patent and Trade office had no comment on the Slants lawsuit, since the case is pending.