1) The Trademark Office never claimed that organizations refused to do business with us because of our name; rather, they claimed that one event in particular (Asian American Youth Leadership Conference) cancelled our performance and my keynote due to complaints about our name. This was false – members of the AAYLC steering committee sent signed legal testimony that there no complaints, they cancelled for logistical reasons. Additionally, they printed our name in the program, had me keynote and the band performed in subsequent years without complaint. Knowing this, the Trademark Office continued using the false article anyway.
2) That was also not what I stated; the Trademark Office relied on an outdated Wikipedia entry that edited my quote (from an interview with Asian Week, 2007). What I actually said was “I was trying to think of false stereotypes that people associate with Asians. Obviously, one of the first things people say is that we have slanted eyes – which I thought was interesting because we could talk about our ‘slant,’ our perspective on life as Asian Americans.”
3) The free speech issue was more like a footnote in our legal argument. Our main legal arguments for the Federal appeal did not have to do with re-appropriation, but rather on procedural and evidentiary issues. They based their decision on my race, implying that anyone but Asians could register a trademark on “The Slants.” They also presented false and outdated evidence. That’s what we pressed in court. (end)
— Simon Tam, The Slants
You are trying to use the Asian community to promote your band for your own benefit. The general public is not going to get the social statement that you are claiming to make. Instead the name just comes across as saying its ok to mock Asians using a common racist stereotype. The Trademark Office was right not to put its stamp of approval on this type of activity. Saying that the Trademark office is discriminating because if you were not Asian it would have been ok is disingenuous. Every case has to be looked at on its facts. Given the context you can’t deny the racist connotations behind the name. The question is not whether you have a legal right to use the name, instead the question is whether you get to have the benefit of a US trademark when the name sends a racist message. The answer is no.