Washington DC Football Team Who Shall Remain Nameless Won't Let Blogs Use Name Without Permission

from the good-job-washington-football-team dept

There's an NFL football team in Washington DC, which is nominally called the Washington Redskins. You see what I did there? I mentioned the name... because that's how you identify them. Yet, the team -- which under the ownership of Dan Snyder has become about as anti-fan and as ridiculously over-aggressive in trying to control the media as a team can be -- has taken it to yet another level. Reader karm points us to the news that the Washington Post has had to change the name of its blog from Redskins Insider to Football Insider, due to threats from the Washington Football Team Who Shall Henceforth Remain Nameless.

What really surprises me is that the Washington Post caved. Doesn't the Washington Post have access to trademark lawyers there who can respond to the team and point out that the team has no case whatsoever? There's no moron in a hurry anywhere who's going to see the Washington Post's blog and think "gee, that's 'sponsored' or 'endorsed' by the team." The team claims that it wants to be able to license out the name, such as to the official sports broadcast partner. Of course, it can still do an exclusive deal for broadcast rights, but it has no right to block the use of the name when its being used in a descriptive and non-confusing manner here.

Once again, this is an incredibly anti-fan move. Take pretty much any major sports team, and it's not hard to find blogs that make use of the team's name. And those teams survive just fine. They recognize that there's no confusion and that these blogs help draw in more fans for the team. This seems like incredibly short-term thinking by Snyder's Washington Football Team Whose Name Cannot Be Spoken, but that seems like par for the course.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Mar 16th, 2011 @ 12:09pm

    I don't suppose

    I don't suppose He-who-must-not-be-named is now running the team?

    ;-P

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    F. Fud Bailey, Mar 16th, 2011 @ 12:10pm

    Did not cave: ulterior motive

    I can suggest an alternative to 'caving' or 'not bothering to ask their own council'.

    The Post's ownership and/or management is probably chock full of what we'd call "IP maximalists", or more plainly, two-faced hypocrites. They saw an opportunity to reinforce, at little extra cost, the primacy of "Intellectual Property". So they took it.

    Changing a sports blog's name? Cheap.
    Reinforcing the concept that ideas can be owned? Priceless.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    BBT, Mar 16th, 2011 @ 12:12pm

    I have to disagree here, "Redskins Insider" does sound like something that has a relationship with the trademark holder. That's the idea behind the term "insider"- to convey the idea that it's coming from someone within the organization in question.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2011 @ 12:19pm

    Re:

    I'd agree.

    But then if I'd been the Post, I'd have dropped the blog altogether and never let the name of the team or any mention of the team ever darken the pixels of my site again.

    Of course I don't get the whole pro football thing where you have teams with no meaningful connection to their location or their fans or why people would be fans of such teams, so that would probably be the wrong approach.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2011 @ 12:30pm

    Re:

    I'm with you. I think it could be a close case depending on how it's used.

    Of course, it's nothing like saying blogs can't refer to the team by name, as Masnick appears to suggest in the article.

    Oh well, don't come to Techdirt looking for a realistic assessment of a case's merits.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    dave blevins (profile), Mar 16th, 2011 @ 12:31pm

    I'd just call these amateurs (mgmt, staff, and players) "Snyder's Team". Not "Snyder's Football Team" because they don't really play football, they just play other teams who pretend to play football. What they really play is "I'm getting rich".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Mar 16th, 2011 @ 12:32pm

    I'm torn

    On the one hand, the more criticism of Dan Snyder, the better.

    On the other hand, the less said about the suburban Maryland football team, the better.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Eric Goldman (profile), Mar 16th, 2011 @ 12:40pm

    Speaking of trademarks...

    Does your reference to "Football Team Whose Name Cannot Be Spoken" infringe on Lord Voldemort's trademark?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    John Doe, Mar 16th, 2011 @ 12:46pm

    I don't think Dan Snyder has anything to worry about...

    I don't think Dan should be worried about using the Redskin's team name when talking about the Redskin's because these days, nobody is talking about them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Mar 16th, 2011 @ 12:57pm

    Re:

    I guess I don't qualify as a "moron in a hurry", but to me it just sounds like a blog about what's going on inside the Redskins. No official connection, they just have someone on the inside.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2011 @ 12:59pm

    One reason they may have caved so easily is that the Redskins are probably a major advertiser in the Post

     

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  12.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Mar 16th, 2011 @ 1:01pm

    Re: Re:

    Huh. I thought it was a porn site for banging Native American chicks....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2011 @ 1:06pm

    Re:

    You are correct. It is exactly this kind of writing that invites 'trolls' on techdirt - the title of the post is completely misleading. Blogs are free to *mention* the team name but might not be free to *name* the blog itself after the team. But I don't really expect Mike to understand the difference.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    sam, Mar 16th, 2011 @ 1:07pm

    i think it's about time that a law saying abuse a trademark one time and you lose the trademark hits the book.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    kryptonianjorel (profile), Mar 16th, 2011 @ 1:09pm

    Re: I don't suppose

    This is America, we play Football, not Quidditch

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2011 @ 1:10pm

    Re: Re: I don't suppose

    Depends on how the strike goes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Mar 16th, 2011 @ 1:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: I don't suppose

    Ugh, it's not a strike, it's a lockout....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    Mark Gisleson (profile), Mar 16th, 2011 @ 1:19pm

    Their name was always obscenely racist

    and now, like hookers charging for sex, they want everyone who mentions their racist team name to pay up front.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    CommonSense (profile), Mar 16th, 2011 @ 1:20pm

    Re: I'm torn

    What do the Ravens have to do with anything here???

    :-)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    trish, Mar 16th, 2011 @ 1:37pm

    lol

    go team voldemort!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2011 @ 1:45pm

    Re: Major advertisers conspiracy theory

    I, for one, do not believe this conspiracy theory for a second, without consulting an attorney...

    I'm back. My attorney (a lawyer) suggests that this allegation of improper editorial interference by sales would be highly unethical for anyone with journalistic ethics. The Washington Post is a fine newspaper, with a "chinese wall" between editorial and sales. To suggest otherwise without consulting your attorney would be the absolute height of folly.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2011 @ 1:49pm

    Washington

    I abuse myself in such naughty ways that I get RedSkin.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2011 @ 1:53pm

    The Redskins have been irrelevant since Snyders mismanagement team took over, perhaps the Washington Post should just stop covering the 'Skins until Snyder can produce a product worth writing about.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2011 @ 1:54pm

    Re: Re:

    You are correct. Mike doesn't want to understand the difference because it doesn't make for a good story.

    I can write "redskins, redskins football, and Techdirt doesn't like the Redskins" without any legal issue. However, if Mike renames his blog "Redskins Football Technology Blog", he is very likely to get in trouble.

    Sometimes Mike just plays dense because it makes for a better story. Sadly, in cases like this, it just makes it look like he is trying way to hard to get outraged about something that isn't wrong at all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2011 @ 1:58pm

    the "Foreskins Insider" has a better ring to it, and would pry draw a lot more traffic from Google searches.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    ChronoFish (profile), Mar 16th, 2011 @ 2:19pm

    Give'm what the ask for!

    This Washington DC NFL Football Team whom we will never again mention by name - should get - exactly - what they ask for. Not what they want mind you - what they ask for.

    This goes for the likes of Fox News which doesn't want link-backs from Google

    All Newspapers which don't want their RSS feeds to be incorporated into RSS Feed aggregators.

    Media Hore Specialist Sarah Palin who doesn't want be talked about in the Press.

    News black-out. That's what they are asking for. We know what they want is control over the message - not lack of message. But I suggest we give them exactly what they ask for - and we shall never speak of them again.....

    We as enforcers of this movement must resist the temptation to peak, speak, or repeat any of the above. I know train-wrecks are hard not to look at - but be strong! The less interest they generate, the less there will be to hear about them. And soon it will just be "remember that crazy chick from Alaska? What was her name?" Ahhh... that will be the day!


    -CF

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    Anonymous Coward (profile), Mar 16th, 2011 @ 2:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't suppose

    I went to a locking once.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2011 @ 2:26pm

    Re: Give'm what the ask for!

    "News black-out. That's what they are asking for."

    link?

    Sounds to me like they asked media outlets not to use "REDSKINS" in the names/titles of their shows, columns, blogs, and the media outlets (being objective and unbiased protectors of public discourse) mischaracterized this as asking that they not use REDSKINS at all.

    Of course, without seeing their actual correspondence, we can't know "exactly" what they asked for.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    Jebrew (profile), Mar 16th, 2011 @ 2:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't suppose

    lock in...ugh...honestly. One of these days I'll learn to read before I post.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2011 @ 2:39pm

    Re:

    Agreed. The term "Insider" gives me the impression someone from within the Redskins is doing the posting.

    Alternative - "Redskins Watch" or "Redskin Admirer" would give the impression of an outsider.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Irving, Mar 16th, 2011 @ 2:48pm

    Does anyone know?

    When did the traditional "reasonable man" test become the "moron in a hurry" test?

    Honest question.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    icon
    FredMertzJr (profile), Mar 16th, 2011 @ 2:57pm

    Local TV Programs

    I guess next they will be going after the local TV programs like "Redskins Report", etc.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 16th, 2011 @ 3:13pm

    Re: Does anyone know?

    When did the traditional "reasonable man" test become the "moron in a hurry" test?

    Honest question


    Wikipedia to the rescue:

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

    Used sparingly since 1979, but made a major comeback with Apple vs. Apple in 2006.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2011 @ 3:18pm

    How can they still be using such a blatantly racist name?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Mar 16th, 2011 @ 3:42pm

    Re: Re: I'm torn

    That's the urban Maryland football team.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 16th, 2011 @ 4:00pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I think Mike actually likes to invite trolls. Like just about everyone else, trolls get ads on the page. If you believe the 'Day in the life of a techdirt troll' comment from last week then trolls refresh the page a LOT and thus trolls are money generators for Mike (assuming he gets paid CPI or CPM). Like I've always said, Mike is just in it for the money.

    Honestly, I've had a much better experience with this site since I turned off flash, scripting and started blocking ads.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Mar 16th, 2011 @ 4:01pm

    Ahem

    I wonder if Intel still has any lawyers left over...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Howard, Cowering, Mar 16th, 2011 @ 4:48pm

    Re: #11

    Or with the demise of the newspaper industry, the cutbacks have reached the legal department.

    (Disclaimer: I subscribe to the WP. At the rate of $0.21 per day. Delivered to my front door.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Mark McKenna, Mar 16th, 2011 @ 7:30pm

    Sponsorship or Affiliation is a scourge

    And to blame here too. See http://ssrn.com/abstract=1407793.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    icon
    G Thompson (profile), Mar 16th, 2011 @ 7:58pm

    yummo I loved Redskins as a kid. Used to buy em for 2cents each or less.. Red teeth were a pure giveaway, so I couldn't fool mum at all LOL

    Wonder if Nestle/Allens are about to get a C&D. *eye roll*

    And ok as an adult I like em too.. with vodka ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Steve, Mar 16th, 2011 @ 10:43pm

    Re: Re:

    I think "Redskin Admirer" would be a (primarily) ladies blog.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 17th, 2011 @ 1:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I think Mike actually likes to invite trolls. Like just about everyone else, trolls get ads on the page. If you believe the 'Day in the life of a techdirt troll' comment from last week then trolls refresh the page a LOT and thus trolls are money generators for Mike (assuming he gets paid CPI or CPM).

    No way. Honestly, I'm happy if there's reasoned debate and discussion, but when people with no logic sense at all are posting completely ridiculous assertions it really hurts the discussion and drags it down to ridiculous levels.

    And, no, they don't generate much traffic, though one of the ones who comments here every day once claimed (incorrectly) that when he left for a few weeks that our traffic went down, and said I should "work out an arrangement" to have him come back. Needless to say, I ignored it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    icon
    techflaws.org (profile), Mar 17th, 2011 @ 3:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "I think Mike actually likes to invite trolls."

    And right there you are. Funny how that works.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2011 @ 5:50am

    Re: Re:

    It was obviously a joke based on the use-mention distinction.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Use–mention_distinction

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2011 @ 7:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Looks who's talking!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    icon
    Greg G (profile), Mar 17th, 2011 @ 7:19am

    Re:

    Give me a break with the PC crap. Stop being so damn over-sensitive.

    The "Washington Native Americans" just doesn't work.


    As for " insider," we have that here on local radio in the morning. "Spurs Insider" is a quick 1-2 minute report on the previous days happenings with the team. Whether it's a game report or whatever goes on in practice. I din't think Peter Holt is trying to claim any kind of copyright infringement whenever they say " presents Spurs Insider."

    The Redskins ownership needs to crawl back into their hole and just be quiet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2011 @ 9:17am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I can't tell if this is sarcasm or not.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2011 @ 9:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That's pretty funny. "Professional Internet Troll" sounds like a nice job description.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2011 @ 12:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Except its not the troll that gets paid, its the site. You just need to invite the pro trolls to your site. If you hire or make arrangements with the trolls then it might be fraud, something along the lines of click fraud. For as much criticism as I throw at Mike, I do not believe that he has any interest in fraud. Mike actually seems like an upstanding citizen.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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