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Supreme Court: Law Banning Offensive Trademarks Unconstitutional

FILE - Washington Redskins football helmets are seen before a game in Landover, Maryland, Aug. 19, 2016.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that an Asian-American band has the right to call itself an offensive name.

The Portland, Oregon-based group could not register its name, The Slants, with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office because of the word's derogatory reference to Asian people's eyes.

But the U.S. high court threw out a federal ban on disparaging trademarks, saying it violated free speech rights.

The ruling could have a broad impact on how the First Amendment is applied in other trademark cases. It could mean a victory for the Washington Redskins football team in its efforts to protect trademarks covering the team's name.

The team's trademarks were cancelled in 2014, following complaints by Native Americans who found the name offensive.

A lower court put the case on hold, pending the high court's decision on the rock band.