Hear some music, learn about trademark law with The Slants at True Brew

From left: Yuya Matsuda (drums), Ken Shima (singer), Simon Tam (bass), Joe X. Jiang (guitar) of the band The Slants.
From left: Yuya Matsuda (drums), Ken Shima (singer), Simon Tam (bass), Joe X. Jiang (guitar) of the band The Slants.

Fans of dance-rock music – and trademark and intellectual property law – will want to check out this unusual and brain-exercising event at True Brew Barista next Monday afternoon.

At 4:30 p.m., the band The Slants will both play some music and lead a discussion about trademarks, constitutional law, appellate litigation and other legalese.

And it’s not because they’re all secretly lawyers trying to bring in new clients via the classic bait-and-switch (as far as we know, anyway).

Here’s the back story: The band wanted to register the trademark “The Slants,” but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office refused, deeming the term offensive to Asian-Americans in violation of a federal law (the Lanham Act) barring the registration of disparaging marks.

Slants frontman Simon Tam disagreed, claiming that “Slants” has a number of different meanings and that, as members of the group allegedly being disparaged, the band was reclaiming the slur in the manner of groups like NWA.

One thing led to another, and the next thing you know, the band took the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Tam has challenged the Lanham Act’s prohibition on registration of disparaging marks as running afoul of the First Amendment, and in fact, the Washington Redskins’ management has made similar arguments in recent litigation – the Redskins and many other sports teams will be affected by the outcome of this case.

The event is being put on by a partnership of the UNH School of Law, the Rock On Foundation and the Sports & Entertainment Law Society, and will be free and open to the public (but an RSVP is required).

Professor Alexandra Roberts of UNH Law will also be in attendance to answer any questions people might have.

Go to law.unh.edu/calendar/upcoming and click the event to register.

Author: Jon Bodell

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