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Washington Redskins Stripped of Trademarks 646

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'm-sure-this-will-pass-without-debate dept.
BillCable writes: Politico reports, "In a major blow to the Washington Redskins, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Wednesday canceled six federal trademarks of the 'Washington Redskins' team name because it was found to be 'disparaging' to Native Americans. 'We decide, based on the evidence properly before us, that these registrations must be canceled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered,' the PTO's Trademark Trial and Appeal Board wrote. The panel voted 2-1 in favor of the decision." Perhaps this move will speed up the inevitable name change, which was expected within the next few years."
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Washington Redskins Stripped of Trademarks

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  • Not so fast ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by schwit1 (797399) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @04:22PM (#47265863)

    From Washington Post: Native Americans have won at this stage before, in 1999. But the team and the NFL won an appeal to federal court in 2009. The court did not rule on the merits of the case, however, but threw it out, saying that the plaintiffs didnâ(TM)t have standing to file it. The team is likely to make the same appeal this time.

    That took 10 years

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @04:28PM (#47265925)

    Was calling someone a "brave" considered derogatory? Same with "Blackhawks." Black Hawk was a chief of the Sauk tribe. I doubt he found his name "derogatory." Maybe we aren't reading the summary where it specifically says the problem is the name was deragatory when the trademark was granted. Neither brave nor Blackhawks are considered derogatory.

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @04:28PM (#47265927)
    I'm not sure that's in the same league as Redskin. The Blackhawks were name after a Sauk chief. Redskin has been a derogatory term for Native Americans.
  • by schwit1 (797399) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @04:39PM (#47266111)

    http://www.warpaths2peacepipes... [warpaths2peacepipes.com]

    Protection: Paint was commonly used to protected the skin from insects, the sun, the wind and the cold. Red ochre was in plentiful supply so this was the most common application, hence the term 'Redskins'

  • by machineghost (622031) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @04:49PM (#47266205)

    Braves, Indians, etc. are not as offensive as Redskins (and obviously Cardinals doesn't even enter the picture). Brave or Indian means "Native American, the way your ancestors would have referred to them". Redskin means "top of scalp taken from a dead Native American to be turned in for a bounty to the US government (which paid for the murder of Native American men, women and children)".

  • by ganjadude (952775) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @04:58PM (#47266301) Homepage
    frankly here is what I think is happening, and i cant back it up with facts just yet but there are some people out there who spend all day looking for reasons to be offended. We all know this to be true with groups like PETA, and those moms who watch TV and watch shows they dont even like just so they can send in complaints to the FCC. busybodies with no life. I think the people behind this is a group like the one I just described who feel they are on a mission, and they want all this equality and they wont stop until they get it. But they know no one is going to take them seriously without a token native as the face. I believe that there is a group that is behind all of this, We live in an area where most of us are barely getting buy. And when someone all of a sudden is wearing coach shoes, and has a coach handbag and a 2014 SUV when before they could barely afford to pay the cable bill. The only change in their life is the fact that they all of a sudden now are against the name redskins (and they never brought this up in the past at meetings), something is up. I think its a george soros, koch brothers like deal going on ,and there are a number of us trying to get to the bottom of it

    I appreciate you not simply going off on me calling me a liar like those on both MSNBC and the washington post have done.
  • by OakDragon (885217) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @05:01PM (#47266329) Journal
    "Funny" does not edify karma. That's why some mods will give you "interesting" or "insightful" if the joke is really good.

    I fail to see how the joke is disparaging to Catholics.
  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @05:04PM (#47266353) Journal

    really? al jazera is on time warner ;)

    1) Joking aside, Al Jazeera America is actually a fairly solid and unbiased source of hard news on subjects outside of the Mideast, and even when the topic is the Mideast, they have been (so far) fairly even-handed. Sometimes it's scary as hell how much less biased they are when you compare them to CNN, MSNBC, Fox, et al. Even covers a lot more topics than the Big Three, which means they carry a wide variety of stories that don't revolve around the latest [Outrage || Scandal]. It's like the BBC, but without the Downton Abbey accents.

    2) In reply to GP: Yes, you certainly CAN have a "The Jihad Channel" on cable if you can get a company to carry it. Now your local cable provider may prohibit it, but that's not a 1st Amendment issue, since the 1st Amendment only restricts government, not private entities.

  • by will_die (586523) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @05:17PM (#47266521) Homepage
    Actually it was a term indians used to refer to themselves; you can easily find writing from various indian leaders who used the term.
    It took on some negative connotations because it was used then used in various negative works.
    Also the bounty of indian scalps was not done by the US Government it was offered by British and Mexican governments.
  • by Desler (1608317) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @05:44PM (#47266835)

    It's not. These people are just completely ignorant of both statutory and case law around trademarks. Trademarks are not First Amendment speech. Never have been never will be. Trademarks exist at the behest of Congress and the Trademark Act. Congress could revoke every single registered trademark if they wanted to be simply abolishing the Trademark act.

    As I posted in another part of this discussion thestatutes on trademarks has allowed for both the refusal of trademarks that are disparaging.

    No trademark by which the goods of the applicant may be distinguished from the goods of others shall be refused registration on the principal register on account of its nature unless it—

    (a) Consists of or comprises immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter; or matter which may disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute; or a geographical indication which, when used on or in connection with wines or spirits, identifies a place other than the origin of the goods and is first used on or in connection with wines or spirits by the applicant on or after one year after the date on which the WTO Agreement (as defined in section 3501 (9) of title 19) enters into force with respect to the United States.

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/usc... [cornell.edu]

  • Re:My two cents (Score:4, Informative)

    by hey! (33014) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @05:53PM (#47266949) Homepage Journal

    So what about free speech? They can still call themselves the "Redskins".

    This is about trademarks, and the interests protected are somewhat different than those protected by the First Amendment.

    The Redskins can still sell "Redskins" merchandise -- that's your first Amendment protections at work. What they can't do now is stop other people from using the word "Redskins" on merchandise of the type the Redskins organization sells, licenses or endorses. They may have copyright or trade dress claim if that merchandise borrows too much from their products. I don't know, this touches on areas of IP law which as an IT guy I've never had to worry about.

    The Redskins logo is not affected by this ruling, IIRC. Somebody will have to show that depicting an Indian with feathers is offensive, which is going to be tough. So the Redskins organization retains a monopoly on products bearing their logo. Even if they lose on that they still have copyright on the logo. There may be a few peculiar situations where people can do something under copyright they couldn't do under trademark, because it doesn't involve any actual copying. But their logo T-shirt, beer glass, coaster, key-chain etc. business is perfectly safe.

    So I don't see this development as something that is likely to hit the Redskins football team where it hurts -- in the pocketbook.

  • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @06:25PM (#47267215)

    Indians, Chiefs, Braves, to name a few. The logos with the name tends to make it worse than the name by itself, except for the Indians. Can't get more blatant than that.

    But Redskins takes the cake in terms of derogatory. The ones I mentioned are milder.

    The "Chiefs" aren't directly named for an Indian chief in general or any particular Indian chief. Rather, the when the team moved to Kansas City, the name "Texans" didn't seem to fit anymore. "Chief" was the nickname of H. Roe Bartle, mayor of the city at the time, and the name "Chiefs" was chosen in a popular naming contest. Bartle's nickname is from his leadership role in the Boy Scouts in the region, who used Native American titles and terms in their organization.

    BTW, that origin story is the official one, but I admit is not accepted by everyone.

  • by sumdumass (711423) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @06:40PM (#47267359) Journal

    Not really.

    This has several appeals processes to complete before they actually lose trade mark protection if they do not succeed on appeal. So the US Patent & Trademark Office can still be told to shut up.

  • by rockout (1039072) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @09:45PM (#47268719)

    Not completely meaningless. While the registration of the trademark being gone doesn't strip the trademark, it does make it more difficult for the Redskins go after people in court for infringement.

    I googled right after I typed that last part, because the whole thing gets complicated, but here's the key sentence - "cancellation makes it more difficult to enforce exclusivity under federal law since the Redskins lose legal presumptions, customs and counterfeiting remedies."

    from this link - http://sportsillustrated.cnn.c... [cnn.com]

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