Disparaging the Disparagement Clause: Simon Tam

Special Thanks to the Berkeley Law chapter of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy for assistance with this podcast episode!

Simon Tam found himself at the Supreme Court because of his rock band’s name: “the Slants.” Simon and his band mates chose the name as a way to reclaim a racial slur. The band members, including Simon, are of Asian descent, and wanted to use the name to reframe cultural identities and fight stereotypes. But when the band attempted to get a registered trademark from the federal government, their application was rejected for being offensive. So Simon went to court, and fought it all the way to the Supreme Court, where finally he prevailed. All nine justices supported his argument! See Matal v. Tam, 137 S. Ct. 1744 (2017).

In this podcast, Tony and Chante (JD Candidates ’18) discuss why Simon Tam found himself in the Supreme Court to defend his “offensive” trademark. The group discusses trademark laws’s defunct non-disparagement prohibition and why it failed to advance the plight of minority groups.

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For more on The Slants and Simon Tam, visit:

Photo credit: Sarah Giffrow
Ta-dah sound effect credit: Mike Koenig

Katie Burkhart