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Legal Features

Lee v. Tam: Transcripts from Oral Arguments

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in Lee v. Tam, which challenges the government’s practice of rejecting trademark applications for names that might be offensive to certain persons or groups. The case involves an Asian-American dance rock band, “The Slants,” whose trademark application was denied by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) on the grounds that the trademark might disparage or offend persons of Asian heritage (even though the applicant himself is of Asian heritage). In coming to the defense of the Slants, attorneys for The Rutherford Institute argue that the federal statute violates the most fundamental First Amendment guarantees by suppressing speech that some may find offensive and by openly discriminating against speech on the basis of content and viewpoint.