[Christine Farley. Excerpt from blog published by the National Constitution Center (Link)] … Since 1905 federal trademark law has banned the registration of scandalous or immoral marks. In 1947, marks that may disparage, bring into contempt or disrepute persons, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols were also banned. U.S. trademark law is not unique in prohibiting the registration of offensive trademarks. Many other countries’ trademark laws contain similar provisions.
A trademark case is currently pending over the Washington football team name. A group of seven Native Americans first challenged the trademark in 1992. The plaintiffs presented the trademark office tribunal with evidence of dictionary definitions, linguists’ expert opinions, and the results of a survey all showing the trademark to be disparaging of Native Americans. In 1999, the tribunal agreed that the registrations should be cancelled.