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“DISPARAGING” TRADEMARKS: SHOULD THE SLANTS BE ABLE TO REGISTER THEIR BAND NAME?

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For the past seven years, the dance-rock band The Slants has been in a legal battle with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) regarding the registration of its name as a federal trademark. The USPTO has argued that the defamatory and derogatory nature of the name conflicts with the Lanham Act of 1946, which prevents the federal registration of trademarks that contain “immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter; or matter which may disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.” 

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