Archive for Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Trademark board rules against Redskins name, cancels trademarks

June 18, 2014


— The U.S. Patent Office ruled Wednesday that the Washington Redskins nickname is "disparaging of Native Americans" and that the team's federal trademarks for the name must be canceled.

The 2-1 ruling comes after a campaign to change the name has gained momentum over the past year. The team doesn't immediately lose trademark protection and is allowed to retain it during an appeal.

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has refused to change the team's name, citing tradition, but there has been growing pressure including statements in recent months from President Barack Obama, lawmakers of both parties and civil rights groups.

The decision means that the team can continue to use the Redskins name, but it would lose a significant portion of its ability to protect the financial interests connected to its use. If others printed the name on sweatshirts, apparel, or other team material, it becomes more difficult to go after groups who use it without permission.

The decision by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board is similar to one it issued in 1999. That ruling was overturned in 2003 in large part on a technicality after the courts decided that the plaintiffs were too old and should have filed their complaint soon after the Redskins registered their nickname in 1967.

The new case was launched in 2006 by a younger group of Native Americans, and was heard by the board in March of last year.

The group argued that the Redskins should lose their federal trademark protection based on a law that prohibits registered names that are disparaging, scandalous, contemptuous or disreputable. The case involves six registered trademarks that involve the use of the word Redskins, but it does not apply to the team's logo.

Suzan Shown Harjo, one of the plaintiffs who testified at last year's hearing, said she was "thrilled and delighted" with the decision. The Redskins did not immediately comment.


Fred Mion 3 years, 11 months ago

So, will the Kansas City Chiefs lose their trademark as well?

Curtis Lange 3 years, 11 months ago

Or the Cleveland Indians? Atlanta Braves? Or countless other teams? The PC idiocy never stops. Heck, Jayhawks is offensive to Missourians. Time to strike it down too? There will also be something that offends someone somewhere. People need to just get over it and move on.

Amy Varoli Elliott 3 years, 11 months ago

These are not in the same boat, Braves and Chiefs while they have Native American references are not considered disrespectful terms. The Indians also fall in the same group, however they have already started to distance themselves from the Indian Head logo that they have long been know for.

Phil Minkin 3 years, 11 months ago

Comparing Chief, Braves, Indians of even Jayhawks is a false equivalncy. We accept The House of David for a predomintly Jewish team, but not Kikes or Hebes.

Bob Smith 3 years, 11 months ago

Next up, all copyright protection to be removed from songs that contain unacceptable words.

Rick Masters 3 years, 11 months ago

Sorry to be a stickler but copyright protection is different from the world of trademark protection. Some of their concepts are similar but they work in much different ways.

Bob Smith 3 years, 11 months ago

The PC police will tolerate no restrains on their rampage.

Bob Forer 3 years, 11 months ago

Good to see we are moving into an new epoch of history where the use of racist team mascots is no longer acceptable.

Phil Minkin 3 years, 11 months ago

Instead of the Mets how arbout The New York Kikes. The San Francisco Fags. Redskin is an offensive term, when have you heard it otherwise?

Jeanette Kekahbah 3 years, 11 months ago

so just because YOU aren't offended there is NOT a valid issue. welcome to murrikkka...

Mike Ford 3 years, 11 months ago

Having spent the last fifteen years on multiple issues and the last twenty years learning it will be good for this mascot to be gone. It is hard for the average American to fathom indigenous realities when they see a mythical mascot created with no connection to reality and honestly think it's a representation of reality. All of you live on Caddo, Kaw, Delaware, or Shawnee lands in this area. This area has been Euro-American for 160 to 170 years. It was indigenous for thousands of years prior. Did this mascot speak any tribal language?... no.....did this mascot have any traditions specific to the hundreds of indigenous nations that inhabited this land prior to 1492, 1607, 1619, or 1622? no. This mascot is a figment of American imagination. If a mythical mascot is out of the way then a historically shallow populace will have to face the historical messes they've created and maybe act like grownups and not the drunk face painted Chiefs fans I saw as I protested the Chiefs-Redskins game in 2005 at Arrowhead with hundreds of other indigenous peoples and one of the current plaintiffs who joined the fight to remove trademark protection for this racist mascot. It's about time,

Bob Forer 3 years, 11 months ago

Keep up the good fight, Mike. The times, they are a changin.

Bob Smith 3 years, 11 months ago

When did the people of bitterness decide that misspelling "America" was somehow clever or witty?

Bob Forer 3 years, 11 months ago

"People of bitterness?" That's a new one. I have never heard folks intolerant of racism called that.

I guess you missed the news Bob. Being a bigot is no longer cool. It hasn't been for decades.

Mike Ford 3 years, 11 months ago

because we hear people on am radio proclaiming conservative values talking like this. why don't you own what is done and stop using the Limbaugh reverse callout ploy? your inner Limbaugh is showing.

Bob Smith 3 years, 11 months ago

"...This ruling happened precisely because the campaign against the Redskins has failed in the court of public opinion. The issue has become the hobby horse of a small group of lefty commentators and politicians in DC, while regular Washingtonians, the people who make up the team’s base of fans and customers, are largely indifferent. So the left resorted to one of its favorite fallbacks. If the people can’t be persuaded, use the bureaucracy—in this case, two political appointees on the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. That’s what is disturbing about this ruling. Our system of government depends on the impartial administration of the laws by the executive. In this case, executive officials declared that a private company doesn’t deserve the protection of the law: if the ruling survives an appeal in the courts, the federal government will stop prosecuting violations of the team’s intellectual property rights, potentially costing it millions of dollars. This ruling isn’t a slippery slope. It’s a slope we’ve already slid down: bureaucrats in Washington are now empowered to make subjective decrees about what is offensive and what will be tolerated, based on pressure from a small clique of Washington insiders. Anyone who runs afoul of these decrees, anyone branded as regressive and politically incorrect, is declared outside the protection of the federal government. That this is happening, and that we have no idea where it will stop, is what should terrify us—even if, like me, you don’t particularly care one way or the other about the Washington Redskins..."

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 11 months ago

If he can still type after having a stupidity beat out of him.

Mike Ford 3 years, 11 months ago

gee, that's not a racist comment at the local culture the populace of DC outside of the belt? man you're good at sneaking in under the radar.

James Page 3 years, 11 months ago

I remember several yrs. ago, Manhattan High School got a new principal from back east somewhere. She wrote a scathing article in the school newspaper imploring the students to change the school mascot( Indians) because it was racist and offensive to Native Americans. One week later a student wrote a response after some research she had done. The name was chosen because the first football coach at Manhattan High was a Native American that was highly respected by the student body. I sincerely doubt that a mascot is chosen to deride the team. i.e. The Kansas City Car Thieves or the Baltimore Murderers or the Nebraska Wife Beaters.

Mike Ford 3 years, 11 months ago

Actually I wrote a letter to the editor in the Manhattan Mercury and it was in their Tuesday paper. It concerned this very subject. I went to school in Manhattan from 1981 to 1986. I was a freshman and sophomore at MHS then. The coach, a man with the last name Prentup came up with the name. I always thought it was weird that these White people were playing Indian as if no real Indians existed. I attended MHS in the 1980's when everything was about conforming to the vision of an Alex Keaton/Ronald Reagan/Huey Lewis America. I can personally speak to the offensiveness of the mascot. It's imprint was everywhere including imprinted into the floors like the Fighting Sioux mess at UND. One thing that was done as freshman hazing was dragging a person by force across the Indian head imprint on the floor in front of people. This act was called being "Shined" Yeah it was done to me by some jocks. I'm Choctaw. No one thought about the offensiveness of this because no one in the early to mid 1980's cared about minorities anyway. When Danny Manning played MHS his Senior year I was in attendance in the MHS gym. Someone in the lower bleachers threw a banana at Danny Manning. I witnessed this. He flipped them off and the Lions proceeded to whip MHS handily. Danny dunked a couple of times which I'd never seen in a high school game before. Mascots tend to make the real people they supposedly honor seem mythical like props to the fans of said team. We are not props. No one thought this mascot was racist back then because White privilege and impugnity silenced critics and victims of said racist behavior and acts. It's taken a while to break the wall of White privilege and this wall still exists with the denial of indigenous religious practices and the building of the SLT. I attended the Kansa tribe's Washunga Days in Council Grove and picked up the Manhattan Mercury and saw an op ed they wrote on the Washington Redskins issue. They were trying to justify their mascot and distance it from the Redskins mascot. It's all damage control and hair splitting to me. What they wrote led to my letter to their editor. It's the second one I've had in that paper on mascots. They had maybe ten Indian students in their district and they chose to ignore the people offended the mascot. The Native students asked a then current African American MHS principal if the mascot should be black faced and then consider that an honor. You all get this now right?

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