In re: Tam, No. 14-1203 (Fed. Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Tam, the “front man” for Asian-American dance rock band The Slants, filed the 263 application, seeking to register the mark THE SLANTS for “Entertainment, namely, live performances by a musical band.” Tam attached specimens featuring the band name set against Asian motifs. The examining attorney found the mark disparaging to people of Asian descent under 15 U.S.C. 1052(a) and refused to register it. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board dismissed for failure to file a brief and the application was deemed abandoned. Tam then filed the 044 application, seeking to register the mark THE SLANTS for identical services as in the 263 application. In the 044 application, Tam claims use of the mark since 2006. Specimens attached to the 044 application do not contain Asian motifs. The examining attorney again found the mark THE SLANTS disparaging and declined to register it. The Board affirmed, stating that “it is abundantly clear from the record not only that THE SLANTS . . . would have the ‘likely meaning’ of people of Asian descent but also that such meaning has been so perceived and has prompted significant responses by prospective attendees or hosts of the band’s performances.” The Federal Circuit affirmed.
The court issued a Revised version of this opinion on June 22, 2015. The court issued a Revised version of this opinion on September 3, 2015. The court issued a Revised version of this opinion on February 11, 2016.