Asian-American Band Fights To Trademark Name 'The Slants' : Code Switch : NPR: The Slants, a six-member band from Portland, Ore., calls their sound "Chinatown Dance Rock" — a little bit New Order, a little bit Depeche Mode. They describe themselves as one of the first Asian-American rock bands. Their music caters to an Asian-American crowd, they've spoken at various Asian-American events, and they're proud of all of it.
But the Slants have been duking it out with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) over the past four years because of their name. The PTO refused the band's two trademark applications, saying that "slants" is a disparaging term for people of Asian descent. Now the band plans to take their case to a federal circuit court.
"They said because of our ethnicity, people automatically think of the racial slur as opposed to any other definition of the term," Simon Tam, founder and bassist of The Slants, told me. "In other words, if I was white, this wouldn't be an issue at all," Tam, who goes by "Simon Young" onstage, is of Taiwanese and Chinese descent. (The entire Slants crew is Asian-American.)