On September 3, 2015, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) denied Pro-Football Inc.’s Motion for Leave to Participate in the Oral Argument regarding the mark THE SLANTS. In April 2015, the CAFC upheld the USPTO Trademark Trial & Appeal Board’s refusal to register THE SLANTS for entertainment in the nature of live performances by a musical band. The CAFC held that under Section 2(a) of the Trademark Act, the mark would be perceived as disparaging to a substantial composite of the referenced group, namely people of Asian descent. A week later, the Court vacated the opinion and scheduled an en banc hearing.
Pro-Football Inc. would like to see this decision reversed on constitutional grounds. The decision in THE SLANTS case is likely to have an impact on Pro-Football Inc.’s appeal of the Eastern District of Virginia’s case regarding the REDSKINS mark. However, although there are similar issues and arguments, a victory for THE SLANTS does not guarantee a victory for Pro-Football Inc. for its case.
THE SLANTS will have the support of the American Civil Liberties Union at the oral hearing. The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon and the American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation’s Capital have been granted leave to participate in the oral argument. The hearing is scheduled for October 1, 2015.
The case is In re Simon Shiao Tam, No. 2014-1203 (Fed. Cir. 2015).