October 21, 2013
A six-member, Portland, Ore. band composed entirely of Asian-Americans has been fighting the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) for over four years in an effort to trademark the band’s name — “The Slants.”
When the band first applied for the trademark in 2009, the PTO refused on the grounds that the name was offensive to Asians, citing two crowd-sourced reference sites — Wikipedia and the ever-colorful Urban Dictionary — in the denial.
Urban Dictionary, an online compendium of user-submitted definitions, has multiple definitions for “slants.” According to one, the term is a “derogatory term used to refer to those of Asian descent. More accurately, it tends to refer to anybody with slanted eyes.” Another identifies “slants” as “Pants worn by a slut, or ‘slutty pants’ or ‘slut pants’ which form the merged word ‘slants’. Normally worn much lower than normal pants because the wearer is ‘always ready.’”