The Slants Take Their Trademark Battle to Federal Court
Asian-American rock outfit the Slants have been attempting to trademark their band name since 2010, but have had their applications rejected twice by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The examiner who rejected their petitions argued that the trademark would offend a large sect of the Asian-American community. Now, the Portland-based five-piece will be taking their case to Federal Court.
“I consider the name a point of cultural pride,” frontman and founder Simon Tam said in a statement. “One of the first things people say is that we have slanted eyes. I thought, ‘What a great way to reclaim that stereotype and take ownership of it,’ and in doing so, take away the power from those who try to use it as a term of hate.”
“Our band uses our name to refer to our perspectives and experiences in life as people of color,” Tam added. “It’s our ‘slant,’ if you will -- and we choose to empower others that way.”
On Friday, Jan. 9, the Slants’ case was heard in front of the U.S. Court of Appeals, where their attorney argued that the Trademark Office doesn’t have the constitutional authority to decide whether or not a trademark is “disparaging” or “scandalous.”
“The actions of the Trademark Office were clearly racist -- but they continue to defend their decision because they forgot what racism actually means,” the singer continued. “For marginalized communities, such as Asian Americans, reappropriation can be a powerful tool to fight systemic racism and that’s what the Slants is doing with our name.”