United States Patent & Trademark Office Cancels the Washington Redskins Trademark Registration … Says Football Team’s Name “Disparaging to Native Americans”
JUST CURIOUS, HOW WAS THE NAME “REDSKINS” CONSIDERED OK FOR 82 YEARS?
Don’t ask for things, you might just open Pandora’s box … The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the Washington Redskins’ trademark stating that Federal trademark law does not permit registration of trademarks that “may disparage” individuals or groups. However, the action does not prevent the NFL’s Washington Redskins from using the name, with no patent protection, the team could lose revenue from preventing others to produce and sell merchandise using the same name.
But of course it is only a coincidence that this issue has grown with the presence of a community agitator as president.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the Washington Redskins’ trademark registration on Wednesday, a move that won’t force the NFL team to change its name but fuels the intense fight by opponents to eliminate what they view as a racial slur against Native Americans.
The 99-page decision by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board said the team’s name and logo are disparaging. It dilutes the Redskins’ legal protection against infringement and hinders the team’s ability to block counterfeit merchandise from entering the country.
But its effect is largely symbolic. The ruling cannot stop the team from selling T-shirts, beer glasses and license-plate holders with the moniker or keep the team from trying to defend itself against others who try to profit from the logo.
From Eugene Volokh at the WAPO: 2-to-1 decision, Blackhorse v. Pro Football, Inc. (USPTO TTAB June 18, 2014). A quick excerpt:
[T]hese registrations must be cancelled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered, in violation of Section 2(a) of the Trademark Act of 1946, 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a) [which bars, in relevant part, registrations of marks that "may disparage ... persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute"]. This decision concerns only the statutory right to registration under Section 2(a). We lack statutory authority to issue rulings concerning the right to use trademarks.
Hmm, so who is next, the Cleveland Indians? And those of you at Atlanta Brave games doing the “tomahawk chop” will be arrested and cited for a hate crime.
Legal Insurrection opines, if the “Redskins” trademark is cancelled by USPTO as “disparaging,” are “Negro” and “Colored” next? So does that mean the United Negro College Fund and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People should have their trademarks revoked?
Other names up for consideration, the Washington Scandals, Washington Tyranny, Washington PC’s, or my personal favorite the Washington Waste.