A Supreme Court decision on trademarks last month has opened the floodgates of companies trying to trademark offensive terms like the N-word.
So far about nine applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) are pending for terms deemed racially offensive, Reuters reports. And if they follow through, you could find the N-word, and others, on clothing, beauty products or even food items.
The Court threw out a federal law that prohibited offensive trademark on June 19, saying the law violated free speech rights under the U.S. Constitution.
“It offends a bedrock First Amendment principle: Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for a unanimous court decision.
Before the decision, the PTO office would reject filings of names deemed offensive because words like n**** denigrated an unidentifiable group.
“We’re now opening the door, chipping away at what’s acceptable under cultural norms,” said Attorney David Bell, a trademark expert. “I think it could be a slippery slope, where you get more people and companies thinking, ‘This is okay.'”
Since the decision, seven trademark applications for versions of the N-word, according to Reuters.