PTO cancels Washington Redskins trademark as disparaging

by Walter Olson on June 18, 2014

WashingtonSenatorsNow that we’ll be canceling trademarks of sports teams with disparaging names, here’s one that got away. [Washington Post]

{ 3 trackbacks }

US Patent Office Invalidates Washington Redskins Trademark. | Raised On Hoecakes
06.19.14 at 5:54 am
New Cato podcast on Washington Redskins trademark ruling - Overlawyered
06.20.14 at 12:30 am
The Redskins trademark and agency discretion - Overlawyered
06.22.14 at 4:00 pm

{ 12 comments }

1 John Fembup 06.18.14 at 11:16 am

I suggest a new team name: Washington Politicians. Nickname can be the Pols.

It fits because neither the football team nor the real politicians have won anything meaningful in recent memory, neither rate very highly in public opinion, and neither has shown much ability to advance the ball when necessary.

2 wfjag 06.18.14 at 12:38 pm

The hecklers’ veto meets IP. Who else can have a name or mascot that may offend someone, somewhere, sometime?

Braves, Browns, Chiefs, Cowboys, Yankees all quickly come to mind. Surely someone in PETA is offended by Dolphins and Seahawks. And, federal trademark protection of the “Saints” contravenes the 1st Amendment. Moving to college sports – Fighting Irish, Fighting Illini, and Warriors – are quick targets. Since the doctrine of selective incorporation means that the 1st Amendment applies to the states, the names of cities are suspect – Corpus Christi, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Santa Fe. And, while we’re in the mood for correcting historical injustice: New York City is offensive, since it should be New Amsterdam, and the state should be New Netherland (and, then, re-re-named for whatever the Native Americans called it before the Dutch arrived). And, then, for good measure, the trademark for Oreo Cookies must be offensive. With luck, we can dispense with names all together, and assign symbols without meaning or having a sound associated therewith (like The Artist Formerly Known As Prince), and we can call the team, The Team Formerly Known As The Redskins, and this was formerly their symbol — which is again protected as trademarked.

3 Stan Forron 06.18.14 at 2:41 pm

Will the Fighting Irish be next to go? That’s another one that could be found offensive by the thin-skinned.

4 John Burgess 06.18.14 at 4:00 pm

I suppose we could all grow thin skins and start actions against names we don’t like. I’m sure there are forms available online to get the process rolling. Do you think the PTO could handle 10K complaints a day?

Maybe an under-employed baby lawyer could start up a shop, because we know that gov’t pays more attention to letters signed, Esq.

5 DEM 06.18.14 at 4:05 pm

What about the Trojans and Spartans? Greeks might be offended. New mascots for you, USC and Michigan State!

6 Robert 06.18.14 at 5:38 pm

I just don’t get it. The name may be in poor taste, but what business is it of the USPTO?

If, for example, the majority of people in same sex marriages find the name “National Organization for Marriage” disparaging, would the USPTO cancel their trademarks?

Or if the majority of Jews find the name “Jews for Jesus” disparaging and misleading can we expect the USPTO to cancel their trademark?

Or people who believe in our Jury system and the Rule of Law to meet out justice may find the “Justice for Trayvon” trademark disparaging! I think I’ll write a letter to the USPTO right away.

This seems outrageous and unprecedented to me.

7 ras 06.18.14 at 5:43 pm

Is the name “Democrat” offensive if a significant number of people are offended by their undemocratic policies? What about those who think Republicans no longer uphold republicanism?

In the meantime, all hail the Washington Denial.

8 John Fembup 06.18.14 at 5:56 pm

PETA could object to the exploitation of animals – lions, Tigers, and Bears, oh my! And Bluejays, Hawks, Cardinals . . .

This is all a national disgrace that we must deal with before we can face the economy and threats from terrorists with integrity and resolve.

9 SmallGovernmentGuy 06.19.14 at 12:32 am

More evidence that government is out of control.

10 Proofreader 06.19.14 at 11:12 pm

I think it is a terrible situation when politicians go after the Washington football team when an even more insidious menace is being forged in baseball. Aren’t they concerned about the Communist team playing in the National League? These fellow travelers make no attempt to hide their alliance. They actually proudly call themselves the Cincinnati Reds. Shouldn’t the House UnAmerican Activities Committee be looking into their nefarious activities?

11 Parkhorse 06.20.14 at 1:29 pm

Christians should be offended by the team name of the Detroit Lions. Everyone else, by their performance.

12 RRBILL 06.22.14 at 5:29 pm

My former employer, the University of North Dakota has no nicknames whatsoever, because the Fighting Sioux was considered to be offsensive to one of the three bands of Dakota (Sioux) Native Americans within the state. They are now the UND Football Players.

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