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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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @04:18PM (#47265805)

    -nt

  • My two cents (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @04:21PM (#47265855)

    As much as they should change their names, should the USPTO allowed to cancel trademarks which they don't like? What about free speech?

  • I just dont get it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ganjadude (952775) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @04:24PM (#47265885) Homepage
    Liberals are always talking about live and let live. they get all upset when people dont respect their lifestyle. but at the same time they attack those who they disagree with

    I am of native descent. The onodaga tribe in NY is where I live. Not one person here that I know is offended by the name the redskins. We are more offended by the liberal white man pretending to be offended in our name. I am sure there are other natives who disagree with me but what happened to live and let live. If you dont like it, root for the other team! simple as that! I am more offended as a native by the cowboys (americas team) and the yankees than I am the redskins or braves
  • Re:My two cents (Score:5, Insightful)

    by squiggleslash (241428) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @04:28PM (#47265919) Homepage Journal

    There's no free speech issue here. The Redskins can call themselves whatever they want. What they can't do, necessarily, is count upon the full force of government to help them out if they want to prevent other people from using the same term in connection with their business, if they choose to use a particular category of name, as they are doing.

    It's just a Trademark. That's all.

  • Re:My two cents (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mellon (7048) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @04:30PM (#47265969) Homepage

    Trademarks are a constitutionally permitted infringement on free speech. Refusing to alllow a trademark can't possibly infringe on free speech: it does the exact opposite.

  • Re:My two cents (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mellon (7048) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @04:32PM (#47266011) Homepage

    All rights you have are always subject to the will of the government. That's why it's so important to have a constitution where those rights are specifically laid out, and why it's so important for citizens to participate in civic discourse and not just expect the thing to run itself.

  • by reboot246 (623534) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @04:33PM (#47266021) Homepage
    I'm part "Native American", enough to join the tribe if I wanted. But I refuse to be associated with a people who are so thin-skinned that they get offended at the drop of a hat. Yes, "redskin" WAS a term of derision, but it's been turned into a better word, a word to be proud of, a word of honor.

    If we have to change the name of the Washington Redskins, I say we change all the names of things in this country that have native origins. Just think of how many states, cities, counties, rivers, mountains and such have native-derived names. Fuck it! Change ALL of them!
  • by mellon (7048) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @04:35PM (#47266051) Homepage

    How is the government refusing to enforce a restriction on free speech rights (which is what a trademark is) an infringement on free speech rights? 'splain, please.

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

    by pla (258480) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @04:38PM (#47266095) Journal
    Hardly a free speech issue.

    Specifically a free speech issue, in a way that "money is speech" doesn't even come close to.

    A department of the US government has denied equal protection to an entity incorporated in the US on the basis of the political implications of what they want to say. Short of "free speech zones", you don't get a much more solid 1st amendment issue.

    And they have history on their side - They won on appeal for exactly that reason last time. And they will win again this time.

    Personally, I consider this whole issue much ado about nothing - The indians lost to the white demons; if a sports team wants to name themselves after history's losers, hey, their call.
  • Re:My two cents (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hevel-Varik (2700923) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @04:44PM (#47266157)
    This the Government using its ever increasing means to enforce thought crime. Heresy. Name has been around since 1933. This a means to an end and the end isn't trademark law and you know it. It's a bunch of assholes in a office using the trademark authority of the United States of America to enforce against heresy. You are just spouting talking points.
  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @04:53PM (#47266249) Journal

    For those who modded parent "insightful" instead of "funny" - Cardinals = "birds".

    (seriously - I had to explain that?)

  • by mythosaz (572040) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @04:54PM (#47266257)

    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)".

    Why? Who gets to decide what is and isn't offensive, and to what degree? Unless you're making a case that it's obscene - which would be quite the challenge, since the community standard includes a lot of people wearing team colors/logos for the 'Skins - it "offending you" isn't the basis for anything; and it certainly doesn't offend me.

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @05:01PM (#47266335) Homepage Journal

    I'm part "Native American", enough to join the tribe if I wanted. But I refuse to be associated with a people who are so thin-skinned that they get offended at the drop of a hat. Yes, "redskin" WAS a term of derision, but it's been turned into a better word, a word to be proud of, a word of honor.

    RTFS - it's not the tribes who are complaining, it's the federal government. Specifically, the Patent Office.

    As a similarly-ancestored individual (my great-grands were both Blackfoot), I'd like to point out that this is the same federal government that broke all treaties, took our lands, destroyed our crops, herds, and way of life, displaced, separated, and outright murdered our families... and they think we give a shit about sports team names?

    That is fucking offensive.

  • by Aaden42 (198257) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @05:05PM (#47266379) Homepage

    Who gets to decide? Appointed bureaucrats at the US Patent & Trademark Office. That’s who.

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

    by Trailer Trash (60756) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @05:13PM (#47266469) Homepage

    White Demons. I'd like to see that as a team name and logo.

    How about "Fighting Irish"?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @05:17PM (#47266519)

    Why? Who gets to decide what is and isn't offensive, and to what degree?

    Haven't you been paying attention? The way it works is as simple as the minds that think this way. These are the general rules:

    1. If you reference a group and their skin color is darker than yours, it's offensive.
    2. The degree of offense is determined by how many shades darker their skin is than yours.
    3. No claim of offense is ever illegitimate. You are to never request proof that any real harm was done. That would be insensitive.
    4. Even if a minority says they hate all whites, they are never racist. If a woman hates all men she is never sexist. But everyone is equal.
    5. Even though an individual can hate themselves genuinely, a black person can never be accused of hating blacks. The n-word is perfectly ok for them no matter how it is used.
    6. Intent is never considered. Rather you will be judged according to a list of words. This way we discount your humanity and at the same time we know exactly how much to hate you.
    7. Individuality is to be ignored. Only group identity matters.
    8. The narrative that every non-white is a poor oppressed victim is never to be questioned. They are never to be held accountable when they make bad choices. Judging them by the same standard you would use to judge whites would be racist. Somehow.
    9. No one belonging to any minority group should ever be encouraged to think about just how insulting and patronizing all of this is. The message that they cannot make it on their own without lots of favoritism and special treatment is a statement of their equality. Somehow.
    10. No one, and I mean no one, who a) claims offense and b) is non-white should EVER under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES be told to grow up and get over it.

    Supplemental rule concerning women:
    1. If a woman is offended by anything a man says, the degree of the man's guilt is inversely proportional to how attractive the woman is. If she's a butt-ugly masculine bulldyke looking woman, that makes the man a real asshole.

  • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @05:19PM (#47266549) Journal

    Actually, the term "Red skin" was coined by Native Americans, to distinguish between "white skin" and "black skin" people who they met. Of course, scholoarship means nothing when drumming up Faux Outrage in support of some "oppressed people", while ignoring the real oppression (still ongoing) they experience on their "reservations"

    But yeah, keep promulgating the misinformation because the low information voters LOVE IT!

  • by metrix007 (200091) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @05:27PM (#47266643)

    Of course there are wrong opinions.

    Just because opinions are subjective does not mean they can't also be wrong.

    Your not offended by it or don't find it offensive? That's great.

    That doesn't mean it shouldn't be changed, if it can be demonstrated to be objectively offensive to the people it caricatures.

  • by Desler (1608317) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @05:33PM (#47266709)

    It's not an Equal Protection issue. Trademarks only exist because Congress passed laws to create them under their Commerce Clause authority. They are not a right.

  • by Bryan Ischo (893) * on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @05:39PM (#47266777) Homepage

    The moment you begin a sentence with "Liberals" or "Conservatives" is the moment I stop reading. If you can't think on a higher plane than that kind of pointless labelling, then your comments are not interesting and will be ignored.

    And yes, I literally stopped reading at the first word of your sentence (OK actually I read "Liberals are always", so I guess I read three).

  • by whistlingtony (691548) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @05:59PM (#47266987)

    who gets to decide? Not you, not the assholes below defending it with snark.

    The person it's deriding gets to decide if it's offensive. That's kind of how it works. The white guy doesn't get to decide if Nigger is a bad word. The white guy doesn't get to decide if Chink is a bad word. The white guy doesn't get to decide if Redskin is a bad word. Etc etc etc... This is plain common sense, and everyone arguing against it is an ass.

    I don't know where this scalping thing is from. Natives were (despite their obvious asian heritage) described as being of "red" skin color. Which is as stupid as the "Yellow" skin color, and my peachy gold self is definitely not white, but whatever.

    You Ignorant Redneck Honkies. -- See what I did there? Doesn't seem offensive to ME... It's up to YOU to decide, because you're the ones I'm deriding.

  • by lister king of smeg (2481612) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @06:05PM (#47267035)

    "It's now very common to hear people say, "I'm rather offended by that", as if that gives them certain rights. It's no more than a whine. It has no meaning, it has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. "I'm offended by that." Well, so fucking what?"
    ---Stephen Fry

  • by budgenator (254554) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @06:24PM (#47267209) Journal

    All animals are equal, But some animals are more equal than others.

  • by Solandri (704621) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @06:45PM (#47267401)

    The person it's deriding gets to decide if it's offensive. That's kind of how it works. The white guy doesn't get to decide if Nigger is a bad word. The white guy doesn't get to decide if Chink is a bad word. The white guy doesn't get to decide if Redskin is a bad word. Etc etc etc... This is plain common sense, and everyone arguing against it is an ass.

    I completely disagree. It's common sense that the person using the word decides if it's offensive. If someone says "negro" referring to the color of a couch, it's not offensive even if a black person takes offense at it. If a child calls the black paymates he adores "niggers" because that's the only word he's ever known for them, that's not offensive. His black friends may request that he use a different word because they take offense at the term, but the child meant no offense by using the word and it'd be a serious miscarriage of justice for him to be chastised for using the word.

    The important thing is the intent of the person using the word. If the person is using it to denigrate someone or a group, it's offensive. If the person is using it out of ignorance or in an unrelated context, it's not offensive. The person feeling offended has nothing to do with it other than in the general social context that certain words are known to offend certain groups.

    The problem comes about when the person using the word is using it to be offensive, but claims he's not. In that respect it's better to avoid using words known to be offensive. But it's just plain wrong to assume that any time an offensive word is used, that offense is intended.

    You Ignorant Redneck Honkies. -- See what I did there? Doesn't seem offensive to ME... It's up to YOU to decide, because you're the ones I'm deriding.

    When someone uses a derogatory word without intent to offend, and someone else is offended by the use of the word, it is a misunderstanding. Not an offense. However, in this case you clearly demonstrate that you knew the term could be offensive, and thus indict yourself that you wrote them with the intent to offend.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @06:46PM (#47267417)

    "Beef - it's what's for dinner." Is disparaging to vegetarians. And, as a vegetarian, I'm qualified to decide this.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@@@world3...net> on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @06:58PM (#47267521) Homepage

    Actually the only question here is what the term "redskins" means in means in historical context. Historically it has been a derisory term, and no-one can really deny that native Americans were derided with it while being oppressed in other ways.

    It's like we generally don't refer to black people as "coloured" any more, because historically it has very negative connotations. Signs with "no coloureds" and the like.

    You can try to play the victim card all you like, but only simple minds are unaware of historical context. Just because an African American became president doesn't erase centuries of wrong doing or change the fact that certain words with historical links to those times are still used widely by racists. I hate to say this but your rant reminds me of that Rodger guy. It's all just a conspiracy against you, nothing to do with your attitude towards other people.

  • Re:My two cents (Score:3, Insightful)

    by uniquename72 (1169497) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @07:00PM (#47267553)
    No, he's spouting facts. You're whining about "free speech" because you heard someone of FOX bitching about it earlier today.

    The fact is, the USTR has no choice but to cancel trademark protection for a trademark that has been proven to have been disparaging at the time it was registered. This isn't a new law; just a (semi) new lawsuit.

    Also, it can't possibly be infringing on free speech, because the team is perfectly free to retain the name. They just won't get a government-sanctioned monopoly on it. In that sense, this is a HUGE victory for free speech! We're all now free to call our team "Redskins" and sell any merchandise we want with that name on it.

    A real conservative would be cheering; an uneducated parrot-er of bullshit talking points would be whining about free speech.
  • Who are you? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mlwmohawk (801821) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @07:08PM (#47267617)

    My great grandfather was Mohawk. I typically say I'm part Mohawk, not indian or native American.

    What is going on is the idea that a race of people were/are in the process of genocide against the native population of a continent for over 500 years. The whites have dehumanized the various peoples to the point where individual customs and ways are nothing more than trendy new-age fads. Rather than a proud people, the whites depict them as mascots and comic book characters. When they take offense to being dehumanized, they are told to get over it.

    The whites did not win the Americas (stupid name), it was the european diseases that did. If the natives were not in decline because of new diseases, the europeans would never have token hold. The whites merely capitalized on continent wide pandemic that they brought here.

    So, if the people who had democratic representation and centralized trade routes BEFORE the magna carta, whos only offense is being in the way of white european aggression, say stop dehumanizing them, maybe it would be a good gesture.

  • by LocalH (28506) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @07:32PM (#47267837) Homepage

    The person it's deriding gets to decide if it's offensive. That's kind of how it works. The white guy doesn't get to decide if Nigger is a bad word. The white guy doesn't get to decide if Chink is a bad word. The white guy doesn't get to decide if Redskin is a bad word. Etc etc etc...

    In this day and age, the white guy doesn't get to decide if Cracker is a bad word, either.

  • by TeethWhitener (1625259) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @07:35PM (#47267853)
    The market can't decide. In granting the trademark, the government has given the owner a monopoly on the use of the mark. Government-granted monopolies are the antithesis of the free market.
  • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @08:29PM (#47268263)

    Actually the only question here is what the term "redskins" means in means in historical context.

    No, that question is barely relevant. The question is whether the term is regarded as offensive NOW. Historical discussions (some would say unfortunately) are rather irrelevant, because people tend not to care much about history. Your post seems to be an example of this.

    Historically it has been a derisory term, and no-one can really deny that native Americans were derided with it while being oppressed in other ways.

    Nope -- historically, it originated as a translation of terms that Native Americans (or American Indians, if you prefer) used for themselves [slate.com].

    And, I sincerely doubt that even when the sports team named themselves "Redskins" that they wanted to insult themselves with a derogatory term. They presumably meant it as a term to honor the heritage of a strong people (who, by extension, apparently might win at sports competitions). Mostly, the rather novel "offensiveness" of this term was generated after mid-20th century concern about "color" terms regarding race... educated folks stopped using it, leaving it only the choice term of jerks and bigots. It's kind of like "white flight," except in language.

    It's like we generally don't refer to black people as "coloured" any more, because historically it has very negative connotations. Signs with "no coloureds" and the like.

    Wrong again! In the mid-1800s, the word "black" became to be seen as an offensive term, since people generally don't actually have black skin. So, "colored" originated as a polite term which more accurately designated the various skin tones of real people. (It lives on in respectable names of black organizations, like the NAACP, "National Association of Colored People" -- it obviously wasn't offensive back then; it was the most proper term to use.)

    "Colored" gradually gave way to "Negro" ("United Negro College Fund"), which was taken to be a more scientific description of race. Since all the educated folks stopped using the term "colored" (not for any particularly offensive reason), it was only left for hicks in the South -- hence it came to be associated with segregation and eventually became offensive. (Not because it was deliberately used as a slur, but because it became outdated except in regions populated by folks who couldn't keep up with new terms, and often tended to have worse views on race.) Meanwhile, the 1960s saw a decline of "Negro" and a new interest in rehabilitating what had been an offensive slur for over a century: "Black" became the new preferred term of the anti-establishment "Black Power" groups. With "negro" seeming old-fashioned, and some remaining hatred of the old "black" slur, other folks kept searching for something else -- hence "African American."

    And so it goes. In any case, "colored" used to be a respectable term historically. Then it got on the "euphemism treadmill" as educated folk keep fleeing away from previous terms, leaving them only used by uneducated folk, which results in the sentiment that these previously acceptable terms must be offensive.

    You can try to play the victim card all you like, but only simple minds are unaware of historical context.

    Hilarious. Read some history of these terms, if you want (but obviously haven't). Historical context is precisely an argument AGAINST these sorts of politically-correct arbitrary linguistic arguments. Often the history of these terms is much more benign that you might think.

    But none of that really matters -- history is irrelevant in arguments like this. The point is some people find these terms offensive NOW, and if enough people (or enough of the "right people," whomever we think should arbitrate such things) find them offensive, educated folks should change their usage. Language is all arbitrary and a social construct after all -- if its connotations cause enough offense that it ceases to be useful for communication, it needs to change.

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