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Racial discrimination

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

Indigenous, Indian, and Aboriginal Law

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Disparaging Trademarks: Who Matters, Jasmine Abdel-Khalik Sep 2015

Disparaging Trademarks: Who Matters, Jasmine Abdel-Khalik

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

For more than a century, non-majority groups have protested the use of trademarks comprised of or containing terms referencing the group—albeit for various reasons. Under the 1946 Lanham Act, Congress added a prohibition against registering disparaging trademarks, which could offer protection to non-majority groups targeted by the use of trademarks offensive to members of the group. The prohibition remained relatively unclear, however, and rarely applied in that context until a group of Native Americans petitioned to cancel the Washington NFL team’s trademarks as either scandalous, offensive to the general population, or disparaging, offensive to the referenced group. In clarifying the …