On Friday, July 24, Amanda Blackhorse and the other Native Americans challenging the Washington Redskins over the team’s trademark registrations jumped into a parallel case in the Federal Circuit. The other case involves The Slants, a band that was refused a trademark in 2013 due to the name being offensive to Asian-Americans, and the en banc Federal Circuit’s decision could weigh heavily in the challengers’ case against the football team.
The Slants are currently arguing that the government’s ban on disparaging trademarks violates the First Amendment, which is an identical argument to that of the Redskins. Pro-Football Inc., the operator of the football team, previously jumped into the band’s case, filing an amicus brief to urge the court to declare the provision unconstitutional.
Accordingly, Blackhorse and the other Native Americans challenging the team’s trademarks urged the Federal Circuit on Friday to find the provision constitutional. However, if the Federal Circuit ultimately agrees with the team’s argument, the ruling would directly contradict last month’s decision that is heading for an appeal before the Fourth Circuit and could lead to a circuit split on the free speech issue.