Justices say government can't refuse disparaging trademarks

FILE - In this April 4, 2017, file photo, the Supreme Court Building is seen in Washington. In an era of deep partisan division, the Supreme Court could soon decide whether the drawing of electoral districts can be too political. A dispute over Wisconsin’s Republican-drawn boundaries for the state legislature offers Democrats some hope of cutting into GOP electoral majorities across the United States.(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court says the government can't refuse to register trademarks that are considered offensive.

The ruling Monday is a win for an Asian-American rock band called the Slants and it gives a major boost to the Washington Redskins in a separate legal fight over the team name.

The justices said part of a law that bars the government from registering disparaging trademarks violates free speech rights.

The Slants tried to trademark the name in 2011, but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied the request on the ground that the name disparages Asians. A federal appeals court in Washington later said the law barring offensive trademarks is unconstitutional.

The Redskins made similar arguments after the trademark office canceled the team's trademark in 2015.

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