A U.S. Supreme Court ruling Monday is a game changer for the Redskins in their fight to keep the team name. And they have a rock band called The Slants to thank.
Redskins owner Dan Snyder said he was thrilled and Neel Sukhatme with Georgetown Law School agreed he has every reason to be.
The band has been fighting for eight years, ever since the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied registration of their name on the basis that it was offensive.
Slants band member Simon Tam said the long battle was to help the cause of free speech, especially for marginalized groups who he said were disproportionately affected by the trademark law.
Their fight wasn't meant to help sports teams like the Redskins.
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“Of course I do not support football teams or any sports teams using human beings as mascots. I think that is absolutely horrendous,” Tam said.
Still, the band’s case and the Redskins' battle to keep their names are very similar.
In 2014, the team’s trademark was denied when it was deemed offensive by the U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office after decades of use.
Sukhatme said Monday's decision is a win for the sports team.
“The Supreme Court is clear that trademarks are private speech, not government speech,” he said. “I don’t see how the team loses after this case.”
As for the moral win, that’s not exactly a touchdown.
“To the extent people are not happy with the name—and there are a lot of people who are that way—you’re going to have to rely on public pressure and the court of public opinion to prevent this name from continuing to be used,” Sukhatme said.
The Redskins' legal fight is currently tied up in the Fourth District in Virginia.