Supreme Court rules in favor of “offensive” copyrights

Washington, D.C. (NBC News) – A new Supreme Court ruling says the federal government can’t refuse to register most trademarks even if they are considered offensive.

The unanimous decision–which was handed down by the high court Monday morning–is a victory for an Asian-American rock band called “The Slants.”

It also gives a major boost to the Washington Redskins in the team’s legal fight after their trademark was canceled due to complaints from Native-Americans.

In 2011, “The Slants” tried to trademark their name, but the United States Patent and Trademark Office denied the request based on the grounds that the name is derogatory to Asians.

However, the Justices said part of a law that bans the government from registering disparaging trademarks violates freedom of speech protections–as long as the name is not deemed hateful in nature.

Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the court’s opinion, said that “it offends a bedrock First Amendment principle: speech may not be banned on the grounds that it expresses ideas that offend.”

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