The battle between a six-member Asian-American rock band and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has been going on for four years as the PTO has denied the group’s request to be able to trademark their name.
NPR reports that the PTO refused the band's two trademark applications, saying that "slants" is a disparaging term for people of Asian descent. Now the band plans to take their case to a federal circuit court.
When the band first applied for the trademark in 2009, the PTO refused on the grounds that the name was offensive to Asians, citing two crowd-sourced reference sites — Wikipedia and the Urban Dictionary — in the denial, according to The Daily Caller.
"They said because of our ethnicity, people automatically think of the racial slur as opposed to any other definition of the term," Simon Tam, founder and bassist of The Slants, told NPR. "In other words, if I was white, this wouldn't be an issue at all."
The group will try a new strategy as it gets ready to take the case to federal court. The Slants are reportedly arguing that denying them the trademark violates their First Amendment rights.
Tam has also posted a petition online for people to sign. Part of the petition reads the following:
“A few years ago, I filed a trademark application for my band, The Slants. The US Trademark Office rejected it, claiming it was disparaging towards Asians. I was baffled: I’m Asian. At first, we fought it by collecting testimonies and letters of support from Asian American organizations; having independent surveys done (they showed an overwhelming majority of Asian Americans supported us), getting linguistics studies, and more. Over the years, we have sent over 3,000 pages of evidence but the Trademark Office still chooses to use wiki-sources instead of the word of the actual Asian community.”
As of early Tuesday morning, more than 540 supporters had signed the online petition.