A decade after “The Slants” front man Simon Tam created a band designed to turn American Pacific Islander stereotypes on their heads, he found himself standing before the Supreme Court. He was (successfully) arguing to trademark the group’s name, after appealing the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s decision to deny the trademark. As Colorlines previously reported:
An all-Asian-American rock band’s fight to trademark its name just led to a decision that could impact Native American’s ability to force the Washington NFL Team to drop its racist name.
The court ruled 8-0 (new justice Neil Gorsuch did not weigh in) that denying the trademark is unconstitutional and that the government cannot use the Lanham Act to justify refusing to register names that some might find disparaging. The decision likely bolsters the case of the Washington NFL Team, whose trademark renewals were denied because a U.S. District judge ruled that they are offensive to Native Americans. SCOTUS previously declined to hear the team’s challenge. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit put the case on hold awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision in Matal v. Tam.
On April 30, Tam will release “Slanted: How an Asian-American Troublemaker Took on the Supreme Court” a published memoir of the legal struggle and everything that lead up to it, NBC Asian America reported Friday (April 19). The book details Tam’s early childhood as a Chinese-American immigrant and his teenage love of punk rock. Tam also details the history of cases brought to the Supreme Court by Asian Americans.