May a Trademark be Denied Because it is Offensive?

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Summary: This term the Court considers the case of Lee v. Tam, which considers whether Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1052(a), is constitutional. Section 2(a) prohibits the registration of a trademark that “may disparage ... persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.” In this case, the Government denied a trademark to "The Slants," an Asian-American rock band based in Portland. In choosing to name the band "The Slants," Simon Tam sought to make a statement on discrimination against Asian-Americans.