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Washington Redskins Trademark Canceled

Washington-Redskins

“U.S. Patent & Trademark Office cancels the Washington Redskins trademark registrations,” The Wall Street Journal is reporting.

More as details become available.

If true, this is a game changer. The team would be essentially forced to change its name in order to continue profiting from merchandise sales since anyone would be free to undercut them in price.

The law provides for removing the trademark protection for brands that are deemed racially offensive. Given the longstanding provenance of the Washington Redskins brand, and the clout the team has in the nation’s capital, I’m surprised that this has happened so abruptly.

UPDATE:  The Washington Post (“U.S. patent office cancels Redskins trademark registration, says name is disparaging“) has more details:

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has canceled the Washington Redskins trademark registration, calling the football team’s name “disparaging to Native Americans.”

The landmark case, which appeared before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, was filed on behalf of five Native Americans. It was the second time such a case was filed.

“This victory was a long time coming and reflects the hard work of many attorneys at our firm,” said lead attorney Jesse Witten, of Drinker Biddle & Reath.

Federal trademark law does not permit registration of trademarks that “may disparage” individuals or groups or “bring them into contempt or disrepute.” The ruling pertains to six different trademarks associated with the team, each containing the word “Redskin.”

“We are extraordinarily gratified to have prevailed in this case,” Alfred Putnam Jr., the chairman of Drinker Biddle & Reath, said. “The dedication and professionalism of our attorneys and the determination of our clients have resulted in a milestone victory that will serve as an historic precedent.”

The ruling does not mean that the Redskins have to change the name of the team. It does affect whether the team and the NFL can make money from merchandising because it limits the team’s legal options when others use the logos and the name on T shirts, sweatshirts, beer glasses and license plate holders.

In addition, Native Americans have won at this stage before, in 1999. But the team and the NFL won an appeal to U.S. District Court in 2003. The court did not rule on the merits of the case, however, but threw it out, saying that the plaintiffs didn’t have standing to file it. The team is likely to make the same appeal this time. Team officials are expected to make a statement this morning.

We’ll see, I guess, whether the team gets injunctive relief. Public sentiment is definitely moving against these nicknames, so there’s a different climate than eleven years ago.

While I’m very sympathetic to the plaintiffs here—there’s simply no way that a major sports league would sanction such a name for a new team—it strikes me as rather foul that the team should continue to have to fight to maintain its rights so soon after having won. The previous case was decided a mere 11 years ago and this one came almost right away, having been in the works for 8 years. The same claim shouldn’t be able to be re-litigated so soon; it creates an unreasonable burden on a rights holder that doesn’t happen to be a multi-billion dollar corporation.

UPDATE 2:  Vox’s Joseph Stromberg argues that it’s different this time:

For decades, various groups of Native Americans have been trying to use this law to cancel the “Redskins” trademark. In 1992, a group led by Suzan S. Harjo filed a similar suit, and the Patent and Trademark Office agreed with them in 1999, canceling the trademark.

But the team appealed, and in 2003, a federal judge reversed the order, ruling that the plaintiffs hadn’t shown sufficient evidence that the name was insulting enough to justify the cancellation. An additional problem was that the trademark had been in place for decades, and the plaintiffs had waited to file, allowing the team to invoke the legal concept of laches — basically, the idea that the Native Americans had taken too long to challenge the name, and had thereby waived their rights.

In 2006, a new group of seven plantiffs led by Navajo Amanda Blackhorse filed a similar suit. Their ages ranged from 18 to 24 at the time of filing — eliminating the team’s laches defense — and they presented significantly more evidence (in the form of academic articles, linguist testimony, film clips, newspaper clippings, and other media) that the team name is an ethnic slur. The court agreed, by a 2-1 margin.

Now, I’m not a lawyer but the notion that younger plaintiffs changes anything strikes me as silly. The team has been known as the “Redskins” since 1933 and the “Washington Redskins” since moving from Boston in 1937. Several generations of American Indians have had the ability to sue over the trademark. The clock shouldn’t reset with every new Amerindian birth. Indeed, given that anti-Native American prejudice was almost surely more rampant—and that “redskin” was much more likely to actually be used as an intentional slur—then than now would seem to water down the legal claim.  At this point, when most people hear the name “Redskins,” they’re thinking of the NFL franchise, not a group of people.

Again, I think the team should change its nickname on the basis that it’s clearly offensive to a significant number of their fellow citizens. But the legal claim that they should lose their trademark protection strikes me as exceedingly weak.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:
  2. Rafer Janders says:

    Just change the name to the Washington Rednecks. Everyone who claimed that there was nothing wrong with the name Redskins should have no problem with the new name, right?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 4

  3. trumwill says:

    @Rafer Janders: I doubt all that many would, actually. Though that doesn’t tell us much about the Redskins name. “How would you like it” doesn’t really work here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  4. Brett says:

    This looks like a good natural experiment. How quickly will the market produce knock-off merchandise to undercut Snyder’s prices, and at what prices?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  5. John Peabody says:

    Well, if they keep the name, and knockoffs appear everywhere, they’ll be even MORE “Redskin” materials out in the world.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  6. Cletus says:

    Have to agree with Al Michaels that this is getting ridiculous. If people want to change the name, then Boycott the team. I mean whose really driving this beside Politicians and Indian Casinos.

    “It seems to me as if he is going to hold on,” Michaels said. “I mean all of the sudden — I mean, for 70-some odd years this was a zero issue, and then it became an issue. I understand we live in this politically correct environment. It’s crazier than ever; you know, senators want to weigh in on this, like there’s nothing better to do in Congress. This becomes a big issue. I mean, I just think it’s nuts”

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 11

  7. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    I’m an amateur here, but wouldn’t the Redskins have a defense here under the Takings clause? By canceling their copyright, hasn’t the federal government essentially taken their private intellectual property and placed it in the public domain? It obviously has value, as the whole point of this move is in recognition of that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  8. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Short answer: no.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  9. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Rafer Janders: Got a longer answer? Or are you just being your typical knee-jerk a-hole?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 13

  10. rudderpedals says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: I don’t practice in the area but ISTM the antebellum view of the Fifth Amendment is coming back in style in some circles and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a takings claim.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  11. SenyorDave says:

    I just did a quick search on five online dictionaries. Along with the deinition the comments regarding the term included offensive, slur, deragatory, taboo. The name is a racial slur, period.

    I think there would be a general outcry if the name were the Washington “nig&ers” or “ki&es”. How is this different?

    If it took an economic incentive to get Dan Snyder to change the name, so be it. And poor Al Michaels can continue to use all the slurs he wants, no one is stopping him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  12. David in KC says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: that’s actually a good question. I never practiced in that area of the law, but my initial thought is no. There are statutory requirements to having a trademark and if you no longer meet them, then the trademark goes away. But I freely admit, I could very well be wrong on this. Looking forward to someone who has some experience in this area to comment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  13. Jc says:

    Remember when the Bullets changed their name to the Wizards? I could see more argument on that change than this one, yet it was really a non issue with people when it was done. This is like a news story every day now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  14. pylon says:

    They cancelled the registration Not the underlying identifying marks. They can still sue for infringement or passing off if someone copies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  15. PD Shaw says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: I suspect that trademarks are not considered property because they are pretty much created by law. (I know there are people that believe no property exists, but for want of law, which I don’t agree with. The stone in my hand exists independent of the law, and if you try to take it from me I can crack your skull open with it. The trademark does’t exist until the government recognizes it and defines it and agrees to enforce it)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  16. PD Shaw says:

    Now, I’m not a lawyer but the notion that younger plaintiffs changes anything strikes me as silly.

    It seems to be an odd application to the doctrine of laches. Statutes of limitations tend not to run against minors. For example, a minor has been injured at age five, but is not required to seek a remedy for the injury until the age of understanding. If its important that the minor receive remedies without waiting, then the law either has to recognize parental rights to seek the remedy on the child’s behalf, or seek a court-appointed guardian to make decisions in the best interest of the child.

    Which is a long way of saying I agree. Parents in particular might have the best standing to object to raising their children in a society that offends their ethnicity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  17. Pinky says:

    @SenyorDave:

    I think there would be a general outcry if the name were the Washington “nig&ers” or “ki&es”. How is this different?

    It’s different because every word is different. The histories of words are different. Redskin was a term that was not considered offensive in the same way as those other terms, or you’d have seen those other words as team names. You used to have Celts and Eskimos and Redskins because they were considered tough and worthy of emulation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 9

  18. Rafer Janders says:

    @Pinky:

    Redskin was a term that was not considered offensive in the same way as those other terms, or you’d have seen those other words as team names.

    Bull. It was always offensive to Indians. It just wasn’t considered offensive by white people because they were the dominant group and didn’t really care what the Indians thought.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 3

  19. LaMont says:

    At this point, when most people hear the name “Redskins,” they’re thinking of the NFL franchise, not a group of people.

    James,

    That kind of insight is the problem.

    That may be because for the most part, people were/are indifferent and did not care about Native American values. That’s dangerous coming from a country that has a long history of treading on minority values. It may seem ok to the establishment but it was never ok to the offended. The offended did not have a voice back then as they do now. They might not have even bothered because of it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  20. Tyrell says:

    I don’t see how the US Patent Office can make some sort of decision like this based on opinion alone. Patents should be granted only by the merits of the product involved.
    What’s next? The M&M figures: offensive to short, stocky people. Ronald McDonald: certainly disparages people in the clown industry. Disney logo: offensive to people with big ears. That Wendy’s symbol: the freckles and red hair will certainly offend someone. Burger King: that King image is certainly not gender friendly.
    Any business will have to make please the moods and feelings of the Patent Office.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 14

  21. James Joyner says:

    @LaMont: As noted, I agree that the term is offensive and should be changed. My point is that, in terms of the legal claim, it’s less offensive now than it was in 1938. The legal presumption, it seems to me, ought to be with the rightsholder given the longstanding investment in the brand. Daniel Snyder, in particular, had good reason to believe that, in buying a brand name that had enjoyed trademark protection for generations—and had just been reaffirmed in 2003—that his rights to that trademark were secure.

    @Tyrell: The question isn’t whether someone might be offended, it’s whether the term in question is inherently offensive. There are a whole host of legal questions surrounding that larger question.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  22. wr says:

    @Cletus: “I understand we live in this politically correct environment.”

    Apparently to Michaels — and I’d guess to you, since you seem to be quoting him approvingly — a “politically correct environment” is one in which we have to listen to people who aren’t rich white men.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 6

  23. wr says:

    @PD Shaw: “The stone in my hand exists independent of the law, and if you try to take it from me I can crack your skull open with it. ”

    My house also exists independent of the law, but without the law there’s nothing to keep anyone from simply moving in and throwing me out at gunpoint. Or rockpoint, since I’d really rather not get into the whole “good man with a gun” silliness…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  24. wr says:

    @Tyrell: “I don’t see how the US Patent Office can make some sort of decision like this based on opinion alone. Patents should be granted only by the merits of the product involved.”

    And how are those merits judged. Could it be… by opionion?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  25. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @PD Shaw: I suspect that trademarks are not considered property because they are pretty much created by law.

    The same is true of patents, copyrights, and other forms of intellectual property. The law goes after movie and music pirates, Gucci knockoffs, fake Rolexes, and all sorts of things where no physical property is ever touched.

    But if “offensive” is the new standard, does that mean that there are future complaints regarding groups like the United Negro College Fund, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the rap group NWA?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  26. Cletus says:

    @wr:

    This isn’t about rich white men. It’s about the Government telling a private citizen that he needs to change the name of his team because it offends some people. This is all about Lobbying by Indian Casinos. Do you really believe Harry Reid gives a $#@$ about this? The mistake Snyder made was not contributing $$ to Reid and other Senators. Where are the Tribes protesting in front of the games if this is such an outrage?

    As for Al Michaels, he speaks for Football fans. His Opinion is his own and he is as respected as anyone in sports media. Peter King at SI disagrees and he’s entitled to his opinion too. People in this country are sick of having this as a huge issue with so many problems in the world. The problem with ramming a PC agenda down people lives is that it creates resentment and just polarizes people even more. Issues need to evolve over time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 9

  27. bandit says:

    a “politically correct environment” is one in which we have to listen to people who aren’t rich white men.

    The dumbest faux victimology statement ever and further proof if any was ever needed that all liberals are racist

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 10

  28. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The same is true of patents, copyrights, and other forms of intellectual property.

    Which was PD’s point. All of those are created and regulated by law. And all can be revoked under the proper conditions.

    But if “offensive” is the new standard, does that mean that there are future complaints regarding groups like the United Negro College Fund, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the rap group NWA?

    Well first, I’m pretty sure NWA isn’t a trademark. And to whatever degree it’s copyrighted, it’s dealing with an entirely different set of laws. If NWA is a trademark for the group in question — them you might have a point.

    In the other two, yes, theoretically it’s possible if someone — and here’s the key part — who had the legal grounding to sue went after them, they might be changed. However, considering that the first two of your citations are groups specifically set up to help the groups referred to in their name, I think the judges involved might look on them differently than a for profit football team finacially benefiting off of the team’s eponymous racial epitaph.

    So, as usual, you mange to come up with, generally speaking, a really bad analogy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  29. Matt Bernius says:

    @Pinky:

    Redskin was a term that was not considered offensive in the same way as those other terms, or you’d have seen those other words as team names. You used to have Celts and Eskimos and Redskins because they were considered tough and worthy of emulation.

    The problem is that this view articulates one of the most subtle forms of racism/privilage*. At it’s core you are expecting the minority in question to *embrace* the “compliment” that is being “payed” to them by the majority. You are asking them to see that your position is in fact the *good* position and that *their* offense is unwarrented. In doing so you are invalidating any harm that the group in question is feeling.

    * – btw, to be clear, I am NOT calling you a racist. I’m simply saying that you are missing a power/race based aspect of your line of thought,

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

  30. @Rafer Janders:

    Bull. It was always offensive to Indians.

    I’m not sure it was always offensive to native americans:

    Oklahoma:

    The name Oklahoma comes from the Choctaw phrase okla humma, literally meaning red people. Choctaw Chief Allen Wright suggested the name in 1866 during treaty negotiations with the federal government regarding the use of Indian Territory, in which he envisioned an all-Indian state controlled by the United States Superintendent of Indian Affairs. Equivalent to the English word Indian, okla humma was a phrase in the Choctaw language used to describe the Native American race as a whole. Oklahoma later became the de facto name for Oklahoma Territory, and it was officially approved in 1890, two years after the area was opened to white settlers.

    Not that this is relevant to this case, as the question is whether it’s offensive NOW. But language does change over time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  31. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Matt Bernius: In the other two, yes, theoretically it’s possible if someone — and here’s the key part — who had the legal grounding to sue went after them, they might be changed.

    I can think of quite a few black conservatives who might make such a complaint just to prove a point — that the use of a now-offensive term for their race is harmful. After all, it’s not as if the NFL franchise is actively harming any groups; it’s just calling itself a word that others don’t like.

    One of the basic precepts of our civilization, even enshrined in the Constitution, is that intellectual property is real property. The law must be adapted to its particularities, but the same principles that cover physical property also apply to intellectual property.

    Hell, even Shakespeare recognized the value of non-physical property:

    Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
    ‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
    But he that filches from me my good name
    Robs me of that which not enriches him,
    And makes me poor indeed.

    Yes, Shakespeare here is talking about reputation, and he’s putting this speech in Iago’s mouth, but the principle is the same: one’s reputation is a non-tangible thing, yet it has worth, and causing damage to it is legally actionable.

    To me, it all boils down to one simple argument: do people have the right to be wrong? Do they have the right to do things that others don’t approve of, or does the will of the majority (tied to some vague rationalization about causing “harm” or “risk” to society) trump the freedom of the individual?

    If enough people were upset about the Redskins name, then they’d stop buying the merchandise, going to the games, etc. etc. At that point, the ownership would change the name out of pure self-interest. But — as I see it — there are a large number of people who need to have their moral superiority affirmed, so they seek out situations where they can stand up and make righteous statements and preen about defending the rights of others (who, often, aren’t really that concerned about the Grave Injustice Being Perpetrated And Must Be Confronted And Vanquished), just so they can win some victory and make themselves feel good about themselves.

    This, it strikes me, is just one of those cases.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4

  32. Grewgills says:

    The same claim shouldn’t be able to be re-litigated so soon

    I would agree if the case had been decided on the merits rather than on standing. As it is, the trademark was cancelled on the merits, then a higher court decided the litigants didn’t have standing, so I have no problem with them relitigating.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  33. C. Clavin says:

    @C. Clavin:
    How do I get 3 down-votes for linking to more information?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  34. @Grewgills:

    Laches isn’t related to standing, it’s an equity ruling, which is considered a ruling on merits:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Court_of_equity

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxims_of_equity

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  35. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I can think of quite a few black conservatives who might make such a complaint just to prove a point — that the use of a now-offensive term for their race is harmful. After all, it’s not as if the NFL franchise is actively harming any groups; it’s just calling itself a word that others don’t like.

    You missed the entire part about a *for profit entity benefitting from a racially charged name* bit of my analysis. How surprising.

    Yes, they could bring suit. But for the reasons I already mentioned, I think it would be a difficult case to prove.

    One of the basic precepts of our civilization, even enshrined in the Constitution, is that intellectual property is real property.

    Oh dear Jenos, you are getting dangerously close to your writings on the Commons. First of all the Constitution only enshrines the concept of *copyright*:

    To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

    Trademarks are entirely different than copyrights for countless reasons.

    And note that already contained within the enshrinement is the concept that intellectual property is a *limited* and *bounded* form of property.

    And beyond all that you missed the entire fact that Intellectual Property has always been a *regulated* form of property (including when it was acknowledged within the Holy Constitution). Which means that it is a form of property that can be taken away in situations like this — based on legal precedent and the existing legal structure which granted that trademark in the first place.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  36. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
    ‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
    But he that filches from me my good name
    Robs me of that which not enriches him,
    And makes me poor indeed.

    Reread the quote. Shakespeare is talking about *libel* and *slander* (“my good name”, i.e. “my reputation”) not *copyright” (which would have been a reference to his “words” or “works”). Jeez man, that’s not even difficult Elizabethan to parse.

    And it’s coming from a section of Othello where the speaker is being told (falsely) that he’s being libeled and slandered. Context man, context.
    [Correction - This Iago counseling Othello, as part of a conversation in which he *primes* Othello to believe that someone is about to damage his reputation.]

    Are you seriously that dumb? And that isn’t a personal attack, it’s a statement of fact based on your evident lack of review of your own citation.
    [Update from Matt: Actually, *I'm that dumb* in that I see Jenos clearly did say that Iago was talking about slander. Apologies Jenos for thinking you had misunderstood the passage].

    Further than that, Shakespeare and his contemporaries greatly benefitted from lax to-all-but-non-existant copyright laws. But you’ve never been one to let historical facts or event the actual words of your quotes get in the way of your argument.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

  37. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Matt Bernius: Which means that it is a form of property that can be taken away in situations like this — based on legal precedent and the existing legal structure which granted that trademark in the first place.

    Which brings us back to the “Takings” clause of the 5th Amendment, which says: “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

    Again, I’m not a lawyer, so I’m just applying layman’s common sense here. The trademark is/was privately held. It was “taken” in the sense that it was converted from protected status to non-protected status, meaning it was essentially “taken for public use.” It has/had considerable value, even if you only count the merchandising sales. (The costs in rebranding are another whole issue.) And there was no compensation for the taking.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  38. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Again, I’m not a lawyer, so I’m just applying layman’s common sense here.

    Given the number of things you’ve already gotten wrong in this thread alone — including not understanding the point that multiple lawyers have brought up that Trademarks are regulated and have to comply with the laws under which they are issues — I don’t think you have much claim to any “sense” at all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  39. Tyrell says:

    If the Patent Office can make decisions in this manner, then any number of government agencies can control a business through permit, licensing, regulatory, and other powers if they find any operation or aspect of that business to be “offensive”, which is as subjective as you can get. Issues such as safety, product, warranty, service should be the criteria. This would compare to a construction company failing a safety inspection because some worker’s hard hat or toolbox had a sticker on it that is deemed “offensive” by the inspector.
    I may be using faulty legal reasoning here. Please advise if so. It does seem there is a freedom of speech aspect here somewhere.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 9

  40. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Tyrell: I hope you get a civil response, because the questions you raise trouble me, too. And since you don’t have the baggage I do, you might get a response beyond “no, you’re wrong, because we say so, and you’re stupid, too.”

    I understand the LETTER of the law is different, but as far as I can tell the PRINCIPLE is the same. I’m not seeing the distinguishing difference between a copyright and a trademark that is relevant in cases like this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  41. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I understand the LETTER of the law is different, but as far as I can tell the PRINCIPLE is the same. I’m not seeing the distinguishing difference between a copyright and a trademark that is relevant in cases like this.

    Again, this is exactly why there are Intellectual Property Lawyers — because IP law is complex. Applying so called “common sense” to these issues doesn’t mean anything. Because there is nothing *common* about these issues.

    Beyond that, you seem to recognize this fact by taking about the “LETTER of the law” — which btw the way, is all that matters — and then immediately abandon the most relevant thing that you have written on this thread thus far with the steaming turd that is “the PRINCIPLE is the same.”

    As my live-in legal expert always reminds me, our legal system, like all modern legal systems, has *nothing* to do with principles. It has everything to do with letters.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  42. Rick DeMent says:

    If there was no government there would be no intellectual property. Intellectual property is something that was created whole cloth by government along with copyright, patents, corporations and so on. as such they are all socialist and would make Ayn Rand cry.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  43. Grewgills says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    The ruling was based on who was making the complaint rather than on the complaint itself. They didn’t bring the complaint soon enough, so it was tossed. The new complainants don’t have that baggage, so I think it reasonable that they bring the case back to be tried on the actual merits rather than timing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  44. rudderpedals says:

    Are the Redskins’ state law trademark rights affected by the federal loss?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  45. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Rick DeMent: If there was no government there would be no intellectual property. Intellectual property is something that was created whole cloth by government along with copyright, patents, corporations and so on. as such they are all socialist and would make Ayn Rand cry.

    If there is no government, then there would be no real property, either — if you want something, and you are strong enough to take it, then it’s yours. Who is the previous owner going to complain to?

    Your argument reminds me of how certain people would talk about how the Soviet Constitution was so much superior to the US Constitution, because it granted so many more rights. But they didn’t notice that the fundamental difference — the Soviet Constitution GRANTED rights, the US Constitution RECOGNIZED rights. And that which is granted can be taken away by the same body.

    As I see it, if that was the case, then it shouldn’t be called a “right” at all, but a “privilege.” A “right” is something that is innate and inalienable; a “privilege” is something that can be given or taken away by the government.

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  46. grumpy realist says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: No, because intellectual property isn’t like real property.

    Also, there’s nothing in the Constitution that says you have the “right” to a trademark. To give a less controversial example, trademarks can become invalid due to becoming a generic term for an object. (e.g. thermos, Murphy bed.) You can argue until you’re blue in in the face that your trademark hasn’t become the standardly-used term for an object or action but if the evidence points the other way, the USPTO will put the kibbosh on your trademark and no, you don’t get any damages. You wouldn’t get the trademark at that point if you re-applied for it,

    This is the same thing. There’s now enough evidence to show that the term “Redskins” has become considered even more derogatory than it used to be; that’s what the plaintiffs are fighting on.

    And James? Trademarks and patents and copyright are government-sanctioned monopolies. Yes, it is correct and just and makes sense that you have to continue to show your “right” to the trademark. Trademarks are different from copyright and patents because they are an ongoing right–as long as you keep refiling for renewal you can continue to keep them. So it should make sense that you have to show that your trademark still qualifies under all the requirements.

    (thus endeth the rant.)

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  47. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The team has been known as the “Redskins” since 1933 and the “Washington Redskins” since moving from Boston in 1937. Several generations of American Indians have had the ability to sue over the trademark.

    James, I feel the need to point out that most of those generations of Native Americans had no access to the courts, and when they finally did have access to the courts they had precious little money with which to press their case. Americans might be many things but “equal in the eyes of the law” is not among them.

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  48. grumpy realist says:

    P.S. Please, people. The amount of legal misunderstanding in the above thread makes me want to pound my head against a wall….

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  49. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @rudderpedals: I was going to say that since the Redskins are out of DC, there isn’t a state whose laws would apply. But then I thought I better check, and I’m glad I did — their headquarters are in Virginia and they play in Maryland, so that’s out.

    My layman’s hunch is that the Supremacy Clause would apply here, and the loss of a federal trademark would trump any state registrations. On a practical note, though, it would be a nightmare for the team — they’d have to apply for trademark status in 50+ jurisdictions, get challenged in a bunch of them, and then have to fight it out in court for any infringements in each and every state. So practically speaking, I think that’s a non-starter.

    Interesting question, from a theoretical standpoint, though.

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  50. @Grewgills:

    That’s not how the law works. Laches is considered a ruling on the merits, whether you consider that reasonable or not.

    And Laches isn’t just “you took too long”. It’s the court finding that they deliberately delayed the lawsuit in order to let the problem they were supposedly upset about to get worse in order to increase the value of their eventual settlement.

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  51. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: James, I feel the need to point out that most of those generations of Native Americans had no access to the courts, and when they finally did have access to the courts they had precious little money with which to press their case. Americans might be many things but “equal in the eyes of the law” is not among them.

    You do realize that you’re talking about the last 80 years specifically, don’t you? Your observation holds true for the majority of our nation’s history and long prior, but we’re talking about 1933 – present.

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  52. Pinky says:

    @Rafer Janders: All I know for sure is what they named it in the 1930’s, and what Rafer and wr think of it now. I wouldn’t claim to know the thoughts of all people, then or now, Indian or white, rich, male, or whatever, and I have trouble taking seriously comments that claim to.

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  53. Rafer Janders says:

    @Cletus:

    It’s about the Government telling a private citizen that he needs to change the name of his team because it offends some people.

    He doesn’t need to change the name of his team. He’s totally free to keep calling it the Redskins if he wants to. He can’t, however, ask the government to enforce his trademark.

    Remember, it’s Dan Snyder asking the government to enforce his trademark, not vice versa. He wants the government to enforce his rights against other people.

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  54. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @grumpy realist: Thank you for the polite explanations, especially in light of our past interactions. And I actually feel a little guilty about your head-smacking impulses.

    I’m beginning to wrap my head around what you’re saying, but it still seems like a bit of “it’s different because it’s different.” The ongoing nature aspect hadn’t occurred to me (I deal with copyright a LOT, and they can be renewed, too, but not as regularly as trademarks) and I’m quite familiar with the dangers of NOT rigorously defending trademarks — I’ve heard of the fights waged by Jeep, Xerox, Band-Aid, and Scotch tape over their names.

    (Fun little aside story I heard: several years ago a day care painted DIsney characters on their walls, and DIsney sent a nasty letter to the day care telling them that they had to get rid of the paintings. The story came out, so Hanna-Barbera sent some of their artists to the school in question and had them paint over the Disney characters — and replace them with Hanna-Barbera characters, then presented the school with permission to keep them up. Smart legal move by Disney, brilliant PR move by Hanna-Barbera.)

    Damn, I got some of the finer details wrong, but it’s mostly true.

    I’m going to have to mull this over a bit, because there’s a part of me that wants to argue that the Takings clause should apply here, but thanks again for the patient explanation (and even the impatient follow-up).

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  55. rudderpedals says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: I had some nice young people come in a few weeks ago to talk about starting a business and we talked about trademarks. They were surprised that their servicemark didn’t actually require registration to be valid (and counseled to do it anyway for greater scope and ease of enforcement). Snyder has more resources than these budding care coordinators.

    I’m going to be the odd ape out here. Even though trademark rights resemble patent and copyrights in all sharing intangible subject matter, only trademarks have an independent common law basis in commercial and tort law. Copyrights and patents on the other hand were strangers to the law having no existence independent of the king’s favor.

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  56. Grewgills says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    In that case, I think the judge was in error. The idea that they were waiting for the problem to get worse to increase the value of their settlement seems absurd here. What I was arguing against is that the complainants shouldn’t be able to pursue their claim because it followed too closely on the heels of the previous complaint. Laches, as applied in this case, looks more like a finding on who filed the complaint rather than the other merits of the case. Given that, I think it reasonable for people who don’t have the ‘who they are’ problem to file a complaint.

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  57. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Matt Bernius: As my live-in legal expert always reminds me, our legal system, like all modern legal systems, has *nothing* to do with principles. It has everything to do with letters.

    (sigh) So true. But can’t a fellow dream?

    The point I try to keep foremost is that the letter of the law should be subordinate to the principles of the Constitution, and when there’s a conflict, the Constitutional principle should prevail. Here, the trademark is something of actual value, and the owner is being deprived of its value without compensation. And, as noted, “offensive” is an exceptionally vague definition; the three organizations I cited above all use terms that are now considered by many to be ethnic slurs.

    Here’s another counter-example: the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. I remember P. J. O’Rourke once talking about 1) how their mascot represented so many of the negative stereotypes of the Irish and 2) looked just like his Uncle Mike.

    But at the core, it still strikes me as a hugely trivial matter to literally make a federal case out of.

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  58. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @rudderpedals: They were surprised that their servicemark didn’t actually require registration to be valid (and counseled to do it anyway for greater scope and ease of enforcement).

    Much like copyright, which exists from the moment of creation, and requires no registration or documentation — but is NEVER a bad idea.

    I think I’m going to have to do a little independent research here on trademarks — because there are aspects that really intrigue me. And the professionals here (or those who simply pose as professionals, and are fooling me) have been most considerate.

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  59. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I understand the LETTER of the law is different, but as far as I can tell the PRINCIPLE is the same.

    This may be the dumbest thing I’ve read all week. And I’ve read Tom Friedman, Paul Wolfowitz and David Brooks.

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  60. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Here’s another counter-example: the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. I remember P. J. O’Rourke once talking about 1) how their mascot represented so many of the negative stereotypes of the Irish and 2) looked just like his Uncle Mike.

    Terrible example, mainly because, unlike with the Redskins, the Fighting Irish was adopted as the nickname by the at the time largely Irish-Catholic students and faculty of Notre Dame.

    If, say, a largely Episcopalian, WASPy school such as Yale had chosen “The Drunken Micks” as it’s nickname and had as its mascot a comical Irish peasant, then it would be more on point.

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  61. Cletus says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    I see that. My problem is the bullying by the government. Cantwell and Reid are already talking of stripping the NFL of its tax exempt status if the name is not changed. In any event, I’m sure Quinn Emmanuel will have this overturned on appeal.

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  62. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Rafer Janders: Geez, do you have to piss on every parade you come across? Things were actually civil here.

    But let me spell out to you what I was saying: one law says “t-r-a-d-e-m-a-r-k” and the other says “c-o-p-y-r-i-g-h-t,” and while they have a few letters in common, they are not the same words. But both fall under the category of “intellectual property,” which distinguishes them from real property as in lacking any physical manifestation. Physical expressions, yes, but the nature of the property itself is abstract.

    To the rest, my apologies.

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  63. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The point I try to keep foremost is that the letter of the law should be subordinate to the principles of the Constitution, and when there’s a conflict, the Constitutional principle should prevail.

    The problem is *what* is a Constitutional principle here? You’ve yet to articulate one or back it up with the actual text of the Constitution. Which is one of those things that I find most frustrating about people who drone on about “Constitutional Principles” — it doesn’t seem like most of them ever actually go back and point out how the Constitution establishes X principle.

    As I already noted, the only section of the Constitution that deals with Intellectual Property in any way is Article I, Section 8, Clause 8:

    To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

    Again, as I point out, even if we squint and apply this to trademark, all it tells us is that the Founding Father’s recognized a notion of IP, but at the same time, inherently saw it different from Private Property, in that one could only possess Intellectual Property for a *limited* amount of time. Already within the clause they are clearly demonstrating that it’s a *regulated* form of property, which one loses their rights to after a period of time set by statue.

    That’s before we even get into the entire “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts” clause – which *gasp* brings the notion of *public good* into the discussion (arguably on both sides — that copyright protections and the eventual lapse of material into the public domain *both* serve “the Progress of Science and useful Arts”).

    You have yet to address how the entire *limited and regulated property* aspect falls into your “Constitutional Principles.*

    I see that you are attempting to link it to the 5th Amendment’s taking clause:

    nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

    However, you have yet to resolve the fact that the patent’s clause in the main body of the constitution is arguably already in conflict with the 5th amendment to the degree that inherently limiting copyright (for the public good) is itself a “taking” (in the way you are attempting to use it).

    So either the founders (a) missed that subtly, (b) totally screwed up and undid the IP clause with the 5th Amendment, or (c) did not consider IP private property in the same way that they considered the private property in the 5th Amendment.

    Further, your Constitutional Principles argument completely ignores the fact that the Constitution gave Congress the right to create a legal structure that regulates IP law (Article I, Section 8, Clause 8). The issue at hand is that the Trademark was found to be *in violation of trademark statues*. From the original article:

    Federal trademark law does not permit registration of trademarks that “may disparage” individuals or groups or “bring them into contempt or disrepute.” The ruling pertains to six different trademarks associated with the team, each containing the word “Redskin.”

    And it’s not the first time that Federal Courts reached this finding!

    So you can say that this doesn’t meet Constitutional Principles all day. But you have yet to go back to the *LETTER* of the Constitution to make this argument.

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  64. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The point I try to keep foremost is that the letter of the law should be subordinate to the principles of the Constitution, and when there’s a conflict, the Constitutional principle should prevail.

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/area-man-passionate-defender-of-what-he-imagines-c,2849/

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  65. grumpy realist says:

    @Stormy Dragon: It depends in which area of law laches is applied (it’s a doctrine from equity, after all.) (It also depends by state, to make matters more interesting.) The rough, general rule is delay by itself up to a certain point isn’t sufficient; you also have to show the other side has acted in bad faith. (Said certain point is determined by the court from the statute of limitations associated with whatever behavior the court feels is most analogous). After that certain point, however, the burden shifts to the other side and they have to show exactly WHY they delayed so long and why they couldn’t have done anything earlier. And of course, the longer the delay, the less likely you are to convince the court that it was inadvertent.

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  66. grumpy realist says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: The major difference between common law trademark and federal trademark is if you get your trademark passed by the USPTO, you INSTANTANEOUSLY get rights all over the U.S. Common law trademark only holds where you’ve been using the trademark. (And yes, the internet has wrecked havoc with this little distinction, much to the displeasure of many many people.) In fact, there is good settled law where you have a) a common law trademark established previously in a geographical area A, then b) someone else comes along and registers the same trademark. Basically they get all of the US minus the geographical area A. (Usually the two parties come to a settlement.)

    This is also why if you have a common law trademark you should police the publications of the USPTO. If a trademark publishes, that’s basically the notice for you to squawk any complaints. You don’t squawk and it registers? Tough, the burden now shifts to you to show why the now-valid trademark should be cancelled. Between the 5th and 6th year the registrant can file to show continuous use of the trademark, in which case the trademark becomes IRREVOCABLE (except under a much smaller set of reasons, of which “being derogatory” still falls into.)

    Common law trademarks can end up being pretty flimsy, particularly in the face of a registered trademark.

    basically it’s all burden-shifting….and let’s not get into injunctions and the hassle they represent.

    Also note that the US is about the only bloody country left in the world that has “common law trademarks”. Everywhere else it’s REGISTERED stuff only.

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  67. PD Shaw says:

    I agree with Pinky above. The use of Indian names for football teams was exceedingly common in college, and professional football leagues 100 yrs ago. Prior to WWI, there at least appeared to be a common belief that football was an Indian Game. The specific term “redskins” was used by people like James Fenimore Cooper, who probably did more than anyone to popularize the idea of the Native American as the noble savage, untouched by the corruptions of civilized society and virtuous paragon. I think its worth emphasizing that Native Americans often object to both the positive and negative stereotypes around them. The book “Dancing at Halftime: Sports and the Controversy over American Indian Mascots” describes a lot of this history.

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  68. Matt Bernius says:

    @PD Shaw:

    I think its worth emphasizing that Native Americans often object to both the positive and negative stereotypes around them. The book “Dancing at Halftime: Sports and the Controversy over American Indian Mascots” describes a lot of this history.

    This is a *CRITICAL* point if you talk to any Native Person. Seriously, they don’t want to be thought of as “warriors”, “spiritual”, or “noble savages.” They just want to be dealt with as people.

    “Positive” stereotypes (from the perspective of the people applying them) are often just as offensive to the people that they are applied against as “negative” stereotypes.

    Seriously, it’s the same deal as when you assume that some dude is going to be good at basketball because he’s *black* (or for that matter *tall*).

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  69. PD Shaw says:

    @rudderpedals: You may be right, but I think of trademarks as the least of the intellectual property rights you mentioned. It has a more limited purpose (to identify “the thing”), and lacks the imprimatur of the Patent and Copyright clause of the Constitution.

    But to the extent that trademark is a property right arising from the common law, I strongly suspect that in Great Britain one could not receive official recognition of an offensive name.

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  70. PD Shaw says:

    @grumpy realist: I am completely unclear why laches has any application here, but I didn’t read the case that applied it.

    But as I understand it, the original petitioners sought to challenge the registration of “redskins,” dating back to 1967, which appears to be the year that a dictionary referred to the term as potentially offensive. The plaintiffs got tossed and several years later, younger plaintiffs bring the same challenge to the registration dating back to 1967. If this tactic “defeats” the laches problem it did so without making any sense. (Equity does not require a frivolous act) In fact, it very likely worsened the football team’s detrimental reliance on the long-standing government approvals.

    Perhaps on appeal, the court will only cancel the most recent registration.

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  71. C. Clavin says:

    I really don’t have much of an opinion on this…the Baltimore Colts became the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Oilers became the Tennessee Titans but now there is another team in Houston called the Texans…Whatever.
    But now I find out it is all Obama’s fault.
    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/conservatives-washington-redskins-trademark-obama
    The Republican party has truly become The Party of Abject Stupidity.

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  72. John425 says:

    I have read elsewhere that this is also a First Amendment issue and the Patent Office has no business going there. The Constitution supercedes patent law.

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  73. Grewgills says:

    @Cletus:

    I see that. My problem is the bullying by the government. Cantwell and Reid are already talking of stripping the NFL of its tax exempt status if the name is not changed.

    They should have their tax exempt status stripped regardless of the name.

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  74. Matt says:

    @Rafer Janders: As a person with native american blood I find the redskins to be irrelevant….

    Now if we could only get you to stop calling us indians…. We’re not from india and we were never anywhere close to being indian so just freaking stop it please…

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  75. rudderpedals says:

    @PD Shaw:

    You may be right, but I think of trademarks as the least of the intellectual property rights you mentioned. It has a more limited purpose (to identify “the thing”), and lacks the imprimatur of the Patent and Copyright clause of the Constitution.

    Oh absolutely, I agree completely. In the absence of that imprimatur there’s still something out there, hard to use, maybe impossible to use. Posit a shipment of counterfeit Redskins merchandise arriving in Miami. Without the PTO blessing I don’t know if customs would seize it but for sure the Redskins would get a hearing in Dade county.

    But to the extent that trademark is a property right arising from the common law, I strongly suspect that in Great Britain one could not receive official recognition of an offensive name.

    There just has to be dozens of offensive place names in Britain. Has to be.

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  76. wr says:

    @Cletus: ” It’s about the Government telling a private citizen that he needs to change the name of his team because it offends some people”

    Right. And in that pre “politically correct” world, the government would only be telling a private (white) citizen that he needs to change the name of his team because it offends white people. For instance, the Washington Motherf*ckers would get shut down, no?

    But now the government actually listens when minorities are offended.

    So please don’t say this has nothing to do with race or privelege. That’s all it’s about.

    Oh, one thing it’s not about is “Indian casinos.” Not all Native Americans run casinos. Maybe you should step out into the world some day and find out for yourself.

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  77. grumpy realist says:

    @John425: Oh good lord the amount of Ultimate Fail in that one statement alone…..

    1) The First Amendment doesn’t mean you have the right to manufacture counterfeit objects, which is what that argument boils down to.
    2) It’s a TRADEMARK, not a PATENT. Two very different things.
    3) The Constitution is NOT some sort of Magic Beanie you take out of your pocket and wave around whenever you don’t like a law court decision. The authorization of Congress to create patent law is enshrined in the Constitution, as quoted above, so they did so, Look at USC 35. That’s it, all down in black and white. See? Patent statute (which we just amended with a lot of trial and tribulation in that goddamn AIA which has totally bollixed up matters, sigh…)

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  78. grumpy realist says:

    @rudderpedals: But are they trademarks? Remember, trademarks in most countries NEED to be registered and the U.K. is no different in that respect.

    (A funny story–we were desperately trying to keep a very old trademark in Yugoslavia going as bits of Yugoslavia broke off and formed new countries. Most of them took some time, having other things on their mind (such as forming a government and so forth) and I remember my coworker jumping for joy because we had just found out that Kosovo had finally created a trademark office….)

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  79. rudderpedals says:

    @grumpy realist: Off the continent, in the other common law-afflicted countries, are they also registration-only regimes?

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  80. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: You do realize that as late as the 1960’s lynchings in the south were not uncommon? And they had the NAACP to publicize that? Native Americans? NO, nobody cared… I didn’t think so.

    You do also realize the native Americans also suffer a poverty rate exponentially larger than any other demographic in America? Today?? No, I didn’t think you realized that either.

    You do realize that if a white man rapes a Native American girl…. Nahhh, let’s not even go there. It might blow up your brain.

    This class is over, come back when you have seen a little bit of the real world.

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  81. Tyrell says:

    @Matt: “Indians”: give it a few more generations. Early in my childhood it was always “Indians”, then gradually changed some to “Native Americans”.

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  82. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Jenos Idanian at 15:32 PM: Geez, do you have to piss on every parade you come across? Things were actually civil here.

    Jenos Idanian, earlier that same day at 11:52 AM: Got a longer answer? Or are you just being your typical knee-jerk a-hole?

    Gnōthi seauton.

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  83. bill says:

    you know, considering how how lame present day “indians” are they should be grateful to have a warrior moniker on a pro football teams helmet.
    i can’t see any present day groups wanting to be associated with overweight, diabetic, alcoholic welfare folks. but it’s not their fault, they succumbed to entitlement addiction.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 16

  84. Francis says:

    On the Takings issue:

    You, a 30-year old, apply for Social Security. The government makes a mistake and starts cutting you a monthly check. Later, the government finds out and cuts you off. OMG, the govt is Taking My Property!

    No.

    Trademarks are property. But unlike patents, the property right exists in common law. Federal registration is valuable but it doesn’t define the right. If the govt wrongfully refuses to grant registration, the remedy is to force the govt to grant the registration, not sue for damages.

    Moreover, de-registration is simply a reflection of the fact that federal registration should never have been granted in the first place. You don’t have a property right in government mistakes.

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  85. Grewgills says:

    @bill:
    I can see why you don’t find the current moniker racist.

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  86. Matt says:

    @Tyrell: I imagine redskins would annoy me more if everyone used it instead of Native American.

    I like how I get down-voted because I’m tired of some of my ancestors being called the wrong freaking name. If you’re going to be huffing and puffing about how ungodly offensive redskins is then you could at least use the proper name for the native American tribes…

    In case you’re wondering the white side of me doesn’t care about the fighting whites either.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fighting_Whites

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  87. ringhals says:

    @bill: “…overweight, diabetic, alcoholic welfare folks…succumbed to entitlement addiction. ”

    Are you referring to Native Americans? I ask because that’s a pretty good description of a large proportion of the Tea Party movement.

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  88. ringhals says:

    @Matt: So I take it, one red brother to another, you are apoplectic about the Cleveland Indians?

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  89. ringhals says:

    @ringhals: Anishinabe, should you care to ask.

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  90. MarkedMan says:

    Two idle things in passing:
    – I strongly suspect the “Fighting Irish” name was a way for the Irish and Catholic university students to take a poke in the eye of the Protestants from the established schools, given the amount of prejudice the Irish suffered in America (look up “NINA” or read the debates in 100 year old scientific journals about which “race” was closer to the apes – the African or the Irish).

    – The NFL should absolutely lose their tax exempt status. Why should the rest of us have to pay more taxes so they can get a special break?

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  91. James Joyner says:

    @MarkedMan: Well, only the League as an entity is considered a nonprofit. The 32 member clubs are for-profit organizations. And, of course, everyone from the commissioner on down pay personal income taxes.

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  92. Grumpy Realist says:

    @rudderpedals: they’re ALL registrations only. Which is why this is all so amusing. The US is the only one that still allows unregistered trademarks to have any legal effect.

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  93. Grumpy Realist says:

    It’s also the reason we have two mechanisms for applying for registration. Already in use or intent to use.

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  94. James Pearce says:

    The clock shouldn’t reset with every new Amerindian birth.

    This is a very weird statement. Of course the clock resets with every new Amerindian birth. That’s a new life, a new individual. Every generation has a right to fight for its vision of the world.

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  95. mantis says:

    I think it might be good to have the perspective of an actual American Indian here. An author I have enjoyed for many years, Sherman Alexie, in discussion with Bill Moyers:

    Bill Moyers: What is it like to be an alien in the land of your birth?

    Sherman Alexie:I mean, it’s a destructive feeling. Because, you know, a lot of native culture has been destroyed. So you already feel lost inside your culture. And then you add up feeling lost and insignificant inside the larger culture. So you end up feeling lost squared. And to never be recognized, to never have any power, you know, other minority communities actually have a lot of economic, cultural power. But we don’t, you know? Not at all.

    I mean, you can still have the Washington Redskins, you know? You can still have the Atlanta Braves and the Cleveland Indians, which is by far the worst. And if you look at Chief Wahoo on their hats and put Sambo next to him, it’s the same thing. And, you know, you could never have Sambo anymore.
    Most, you know, at least half the country thinks the mascot issue is insignificant. But I think it’s indicative of the ways in which Indians have no cultural power. We’re still placed in the past. So we’re either in the past or we’re only viewed through casinos.

    Interview here.

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  96. MarkedMan says:

    I often think that liberals go too far in granting victimhood to too many people. But looking at the reaction to this court ruling I find myself wondering about Republicans, or at least ones out in public. Amongst their rank James is one of the few that seems to even make an effort to see this from someone else’s point of view. Just as the problem with living in a permanent state of victimhood is that you live every moment of your life focused only on yourself, so it seems with the public face of the Republican party – they can only evaluate anything that happens in turns of how it affects them, or those they perceive as just like them, i.e. proxies for themselves. And there doesn’t have to be a real cost to justify discounting everyone else’s point of view, it’s enough that something is mildly annoying.

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  97. Cletus says:

    @wr:

    Thanks for the advice on stepping out in the real world. Maybe it would be wise if you followed your own advice and actually went to an Indian reservation. You would find that most Native Americans don’t care about this and are more concerned with Education, Poverty, and a high suicide rate. As for the Casinos and DC elite, they are the ones driving this. Where are the Protests? Do you really want your Senators focused on this instead of a pressing Issue like creating JOBS? I’m interested in ideas and solutions for real problems regardless of which party comes up with a plan. Don’t let the media and DC politicians distract you from the Real Problems in the world.

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  98. Tyrell says:

    Off-topic comment deleted.

    Editor’s note: This is at least the second time you’ve entered into a discussion on this topic with the same lame trolling. Take the hint and stop it.

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  99. Matt Bernius says:

    @Cletus:

    You would find that most Native Americans don’t care about this and are more concerned with Education, Poverty, and a high suicide rate.

    It is entirely possible to be *primarily* concerned with topics like Education, Poverty, and Suicides Rate AND also be pissed off at things like teams continuing to be named “Redskins” or mascots like “Chief Wahoo.”

    Most Native Americans I know are more than capable of balancing all of these things quite nicely.

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  100. Cletus says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Look, I’m pissed off about a lot of things and have no problem juggling multiple issues. My whole problem with the debate are the politicians and media.

    I also understand how and why some people find Redskin and Chief Wahoo offensive, but let them be the Reason for any change to occur with the Redskins. I don’t want our hypocritical Senate or the USPTO to force change even though a small segment of people find the name offensive. These Senators and Media have lost in the court of public opinion and are using the bureaucracy to force change.

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  101. Pinky says:

    @Tyrell:

    What are the chances of this team making the Super Bowl ?

    About as good as their chances of changing their name to the Ni–ers or the K-kes.

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  102. wr says:

    @Cletus: ” Maybe it would be wise if you followed your own advice and actually went to an Indian reservation.”

    Actually, I spent a good deal of time on the Navajo reservation when writing a pilot for CBS, and interviewed many people in the tribal leadership.

    None of which has anything to do with your blithe assertion that nothing should ever be done until there are people out there “protesting.” Or that we can’t address one issue until every other issue has been solved. Or any of your other “points.”

    Tell me, what’s your solution to the pressing problems on the reservations. You planning on trying to make the government make good on centuries of broken promises and ignored treaties? Or are you just using this as an excuse to put off dealing with the issue at hand?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  103. wr says:

    @wr: Oh, and I concede it’s easy for anyone to claim anything on the internet. If you need confirmation on the pilot, go to Amazon and search for “Ella Clah: The Pilot Script.”

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  104. wr says:

    @Cletus: “I also understand how and why some people find Redskin and Chief Wahoo offensive, but let them be the Reason for any change to occur with the Redskins. I don’t want our hypocritical Senate or the USPTO to force change even though a small segment of people find the name offensive”

    Now THERE’S a plan: Don’t let the people who actually have the power to do something about this do anything. Instead, let’s force the ones who don’t have any power to effect a change to do it all on their own. That’s how things get done in Tea Nation!

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  105. wr says:

    @Tyrell: “I don’t see how this could be taking up any attention of members of Congress. It seems that there are more important things to take care of.”

    Why, yes. Yes there are. But since the Republicans refuse to allow any of them to come to a vote, might as well deal with this! It’s better than a 9,000th vote to repeal Obamacare.

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  106. Matt Bernius says:

    @Cletus:

    I also understand how and why some people find Redskin and Chief Wahoo offensive, but let them be the Reason for any change to occur with the Redskins.

    Um… they were. Read the initial articles:

    The landmark case, which appeared before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, was filed on behalf of five Native Americans. It was the second time such a case was filed.
    [...]
    In addition, Native Americans have won at this stage before, in 1999.

    This *was* the second of at least two suits brought by Native Americans.

    So saying that they didn’t *ask* for this or *want* this is pretty disingenuous. Or rather it seems to be ignoring certain facts to grind your particular axe.

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  107. grumpy realist says:

    Note that the WSJ is having a hissy fit on its editorial page about this whole thing. It allows them to churn out yet another “unelected Government officials do all the evil things in the world” column. It also manages to get trademark law wrong, but that’s par for the course for the WSJ.

    I’m more interested in the CLS Bank decision, which SCOTUS just issued today. My take of it is: good luck getting a business method patent, guys, especially if it involves concepts known for years…..

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  108. bill says:

    @Grewgills: i’m a Giant’s fan,i no love for the ‘skins unless they’re beating the cowboys. this pc crap needs to die a horrible death, the fed gov’t. stepping in is beyond lame. but when you look to the white house you expect this kind of pansy assed bs.

    @ringhals: last i checked the t-party demos were ;
    above avg. education & above avg. income. sure, they could easily have some fat drunks and diabetics on board but they aren’t the welfare crowd by any means- they earned their lot!

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  109. Dave D says:

    @bill: No the fat , drunk, diabetic, welfare receiving crowd is most of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. There aren’t any educated, above average income income possessing people in that demographic.

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  110. Ramalama says:

    I still think it’s a cool logo with the Indian head and all…We could call them the Washington Foreskins and get some of you liberals to attend games…LOL

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