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The Band, the Court, and Stories from the Asian Diaspora

Asian American & Diaspora Studies Program
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Friday, February 21, 2020
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12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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Ilhyung Lee
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Dialogues in Asian American Studies

The Band, the Court, and Stories from the Asian Diaspora

In Matal v. Tam (2017), an Asian American band sought to register the trademark, "THE SLANTS." The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied registration, relying on a provision of the federal statute that prohibits the registration of marks that may "disparage" persons. In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court held that the disparagement clause violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment. The Court's decision received much attention and had immediate impact. "THE SLANTS" is now a federally registered mark.

This presentation examines the Tam decision through the lens of an Asian diaspora. The Asian American band asserted that by adopting a derogatory term for persons of Asian descent as the group's trademark, it was "reclaiming" and "owning" the stereotype. Asian American civic groups also weighed in on the controversy, some supporting the registration of the racial epithet, while others opposed. The discussion invites and encourages others to add their narratives.

Ilhyung Lee, University of Missouri
Director, Center for the Study of Dispute Resolution & Edward W. Hinton Professor of Law

12-1pm Lunch Talk and Discussion
Room 001A Center for Multicultural Affairs,
Bryan Center

Lunch provided. All welcome!
Please RSVP to