Supreme Court Ruling Could Help Washington Redskins’ Defense of Mascot

New decision struck down part of law that bans offensive trademarks.

Washington Redskins
Redskins helmets on display during a Washington Redskins Mini-Camp workout session at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Virginia in 2016. (Daniel Kucin Jr./Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

It’s not even football season yet, and the Washington Redskins may have already scored one big victory.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that part of a law banning the trademarking of offensive names infringed on First Amendment rights, per The Guardian.

The ruling itself marks a major victory for the litigant in the case, an all-Asian rock band called The Slants, whom RCL interviewed at length about the case last year. Lead singer Simon Tam told RCL the name—which could be perceived as an archaic, racist name for Asian—was, in fact, about “celebrating Asian culture,” not being offensive. At the time of RCL‘s interview, Tam talked what a potential high court ruling could mean:

“If we lose and the Supreme Court sides with the trademark office on this particular issue, that means not only do we lose the ability to register our trademark, but so do hundreds and hundreds of other applications that are in suspension right now. That tends to be other artists or nonprofits or small business owners, who were accused of being disparaging or offensive whether or not they actually were.”

One business potentially affected by the case is the Washington Redskins NFL franchise, which has been fighting a revocation of its trademark by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office since 2014. The team’s case was shelved until The Slants’ was resolved.

Could this new precedent be what the team needs to gain its trademark back?

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