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The Slants Lose Trademark Battle, But Vow to Fight On

Simon Tam, the founder of the Asian-American indie rock band, The Slants, says the six-year battle to trademark the band’s name is not over yet, despite a unfavorable ruling this week.

“We will continue to fight, most likely appeal for a full panel review,” Tam said, after reviewing the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

On Monday, the court released its decision upholding the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's ruling to deny trademark protection because the name “slants” was deemed a disparaging slur.

“I’m disappointed but not surprised,” said Tam, who has long argued that the name is not offensive, and that the band was simply reclaiming an old stereotype. “Our government has a history of not being culturally competent when handling deep issues that pertain to marginalized communities.”

Tam used the word “odd” to describe the court ruling, saying it seemed contradictory.

“It was almost as if the judge who wrote the opinion provided the rebuttal for their own decision - 24 pages of 'Additional Views' compared to the 11 page decision, indicates uncertainty," he said. "It is disappointing that they continue to use false information and uphold questionable evidence, such as UrbanDictionary.com."

In this appeal, Tam had a wide array of evidence to make his case including a letter from the editor of the Oxford English dictionary, as well as a nationwide survey of Asian Americans who denied the name was a disparagement toward them.

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