Virginia White Man Wants To Trademark The N-Word
Following a ruling made by the U.S. Supreme Court on trademarks last month, a small group of companies and individuals are hoping to trademark racially charged words and symbols for their products, including the N-word and a swastika.
In a report from Reuters, at least nine such applications have been filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) following the U.S. Supreme Court's unanimous ruling to get rid of federal law prohibiting disparaging trademarks, with the court stating the law violated free speech rights under the U.S. Constitution.
READ: New York Woman Running For Office Defends Use Of N-Word
"We're now opening the door, chipping away at what's acceptable under cultural norms," Attorney David Bell, a trademark expert with the law firm Haynes and Boone, said. "I think it could be a slippery slope, where you get more people and companies thinking, 'This is okay.'"
If the applicants follow through, products ranging from clothing and energy drinks to flags and toilet paper could become branded with the offensive material. Also, because they are federally registered trademarks, they can protect businesses against unauthorized uses of their brands, too.
According to PTO records, seven trademark applications for versions of the N-word, have been filed. One such application was filed by a white man named Steve Maynard, a Virginia consultant who helps others obtain trademarks and is the founder of Snowflake Enterprises.
The company has submitted applications to trademark a version of the N-word to appear on clothing, hard liquor and beer, and intends to turn the slur into a brand. Maynard even described one item featuring a picture of Martin Luther King with the N-word and a question mark underneath it. Regardless, Maynard insists he is "not at all" racist.
"We want to desensitize it, we want to provoke questions, we want to spark conversation and not suppress," Maynard said during an interview with WUSA9. Maynard remained anonymous during the video interview, having reportedly received death threats from white supremacists for also hoping to trademark the swastika.