USPTO: The Term 'Redskins' Is Offensive And Can't Be Trademarked

from the paging-Dan-Snyder dept

Months back I and others were questioning whether or not the NFL's Washington Redskins team could trademark their name, given that trademark law includes some fairly explicit language that bans such marks on offensive, racist, or derogatory language. While some folks raised understandable concerns about the flimsy nature of the oft-offended, it was and is my opinion that the United States government should not be in the business of sanctifying rich, white men making gobs of money off of a reference to the skin color of a group of people that same government had nearly obliterated. Crazy, I know, but 'yam what I 'yam.

And now, amazingly, we appear to have our answer. And that answer is that you of course can't trademark the term "Redskins" because it's derogatory.
Late last month, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied an application to register a trademark for "Redskins Hog Rinds," a product wholly unrelated to the Washington football team. The USPTO's reasoning for refusing the trademark is simple: It's offensive. From the USPTO decision:
"Registration is refused because the applied-for mark REDSKINS HOG RINDS consists of or includes matter which may disparage or bring into contempt or disrepute persons, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols."
As Deadspin notes, this is unrelated to the Washington team, which already has their mark and does not have to go through this same review process, but the point appears to be clear: the USPTO says you can't trademark "Redskins" because of the nature of the word. The timing of this is likely worrisome to Dan Snyder, owner of the Redskins, given that there is a lawsuit brought by a group of Native Americans sitting before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, who is sure to point to this application denial as evidence in their claim. Losing the mark wouldn't infringe on Snyder's speech by preventing him from using the word for his team and merchandise. It would simply allow everyone who wanted to use an openly racist term on merchandise to do so, which would almost certainly lead to Snyder changing the name of the team to something less horrific.

So...er...thanks, USPTO?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 3:31pm

    Honestly...

    I don't give a crap about sports teams having "offensive" names.

    Redskins, Chiefs, Blackhawks, etc.

    Making the teams change their names is just a headache and a half.

    Fuck you, NCAA!

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 4:12pm

    There's a decades-long story you're missing here, as well as some false conclusions (e.g., losing a registration doesn't mean you lose all your trademark rights).

     

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  3.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 4:13pm

    Inaccurate Hyperbole

    > it was and is my opinion that the United
    > States government should not be in the business
    > of sanctifying rich, white men making gobs of
    > money off of a reference to the skin color of
    > a group of people that same government had
    > nearly obliterated.

    And I pointed out at the time (and will do so here again) that the government's grant of a trademark to a business is not even an endorsement (let alone a 'sanctification'-- seriously?) of that business.

     

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  4.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 4:16pm

    Trademark Loss

    > It would simply allow everyone who wanted
    > to use an openly racist term on merchandise
    > to do so

    I don't think it would really hit them very hard at all. They'd only lose their trademark on the word 'Redskins'. They'd still have all their marks on the team's logo and colors, and they could still prevent anyone else from selling those. And since they, too, could also continue to sell 'Redskin' merchandise, the impact would really be minimal.

     

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    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 4:17pm

    Another up-to-minute, ground-breaking, re-write.

    Meanwhile, leaves aside that National Football League is a literally legislated monopoly that makes millionaires out of athletic brutes. Totally undefensible by any free market philosophy, yet "conservatives" and "libertarians" HOWL when coal mines are regulated just enough to not outright kill the miners. What an insane society.

    And several levels beneath that are frat boys who use their Ivy League statistics course for playing fantasy football, but never have a good word to say about laborers.

    "Venture Capitalist" is techno-feudalist for "Born Rich Brat who never had to work a day in their life; they look for poor people with ideas who are desperate for capital, and "venture" a little of present entitlements in greedy hopes of even more leeching off laborers in future.

    12:16:53[n-257-8]

     

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  6.  
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    Nastybutler77 (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 4:25pm

    What about CocaCola's trademarked name? I mean, the governement is practically endorsing the use of cocaine by Tim's logic here.

     

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  7.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 4:32pm

    Re: Honestly...

    Well, technically the Blackhawks' name is not offensive, but the logo almost certainly could be seen that way....

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 4:51pm

    Re:

    Wow, that was lame.
    You do know that it originally did contain coke, right?

     

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  9.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 5:10pm

    Re: Re:

    What? You mean that's the secret in Coke?!

    No, wait, it's Sugar these days, isn't it?

     

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    identicon
    Mike, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 5:17pm

    Give me a break!! Get a life already and stop your PC whiny-aszzed B$!!

     

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  11.  
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    Jon Jones, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 5:32pm

    Re: Re: Honestly...

    Everything seems to be offensive to somebody.

     

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  12.  
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    allengarvin (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 5:47pm

    Redskin is a pretty offensive word when applied to First Nations peoples, harking back to centuries of broken treaties, mistreatment, oppression, sometimes outright genocide.

    But, I note, trademarks are still allowed for certain types of trademarks on redskin peanuts, as well as potatoes. I suggest the Redskin Pork Rind company simply use the skin of a particular breed of pig:

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

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 6:10pm

    As always its a few white man who are complaining the loudest while the majority of the supposedly offended party dosent give a fuck.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 6:14pm

    Guess companies need, in the name of political correctness, to change "Cracker Barrel", "Black Flag", "Spic and Span", and many other trademarks to something more attune to the sensibilities of people having nothing better to do than to whine about every perceived slight.

    Maybe "Redneck Hog Rinds" would be more palatable since "rednecks", a pejorative term, as a group appear to have better things to do with their time.

    It seems unlikely the decision will be appealed, but the decision is not free from doubt in its interpretation and application of 15 USC 1052(a).

     

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  15.  
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    Jeremy, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 6:27pm

    Words that have become offensive

    There are many people that very probably have ancestors from Africa, or due to their skin color a lot of Americans would think that their ancestors are from Africa, that take offense to the word "negro".
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/09/juror-form-negro_n_4556506.html
    So how much longer until the United Negro College loses its trademark? I would very much like to start my own fund with that name. Of course I would only do it so that the original organization with that name would change theirs. Which according to you is the reason offensive names should be stripped or not gain protection in the first place. It would have nothing to do with me wanting to make a profit.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 6:29pm

    Re: Words that have become offensive

    United Negro College Fund.

     

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  17.  
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    McCrea (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 6:50pm

    Thought it was a tribute to them. There's a strong tendency to name a team after something respectable rather than despicable.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 7:01pm

    Re:

    Redneck doesn't "insult" a minority so there is no problem...

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 7:07pm

    Re: Re:

    Never realized "offensive" is limited to only minority groups. Clarification appreciated.

     

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  20.  
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    mrbill, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 7:33pm

    Did they forget....

    Seems they forgot an important point....

    They Lost.....so piss off.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 8:06pm

    What a PC asshole. Nothing like being butthurt by proxy. Why don't you go suffer on behalf of a group that actually give a shit. Most Indians aren't offended by the name redskins. Except the ones trying to cash in.

     

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  22.  
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    Paraquat (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 8:48pm

    I'm offended by the term "Microsoft"

    Personally, I'm offended that the term "Microsoft" has received a trademark. Obviously, it refers to penis size and state of the company's founders.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 8:55pm

    Re:

    Yeah, it's not bigotry - what a bunch of whinerz
    Glad that is finally straighten out.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 8:57pm

    Re:

    That argument might have a bit more credibility if supported by actual facts rather than complete bullshit.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 8:58pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Bigotry knows no bounds

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 8:59pm

    Re:

    Citation needed

     

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  27.  
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    trollificus (profile), Jan 13th, 2014 @ 10:15pm

    Well, as long as government is enforcing GOOD speech.....

    The word itself (unlike the "n-word") hasn't been used as a pejorative term to describe "First Nations", "Indians", "North American Aborigine", "What the fuck ever" peoples in a hundred years. But there does exist a currently small-but-growing industry (too small to refer to as "Big Offense", I suppose) interested in promoting the taking of offense, said industry not unrelated to the larger, growing and very lucrative enterprise of providing sensitivity workshops, diversity seminars and corporate consulting regarding the 'giving of offense'. Too cynical? Perhaps. But I've yet to find a degree of cynicism that leads me to overestimate human greed and mindless self-interest. These professional offense-takers and paid insensitivity-absolvers find ready allies in the huge-and-constantly-expanding federal bureaucracy we all so love.

    And TechDirt applauds this?

    I find it offensive when people (the freedom-loving denizens of TechDirt for instance) who (rightly) find so much government action objectionable, and who so frequently (and rightly) worry about the growth of government power, are perfectly fine with the use of such power when it fits their own preferences, prejudices, or favorite means of generating smug superiority. Sounds like a case of believing in freedom...for people to do or say things of which you approve. Nice.

    But hey, that's just moral inconsistency, or maybe hypocrisy. The worst aspect of having the government in the business of deciding what people are allowed to say is the SUBJECTIVE NATURE OF THE SO-CALLED VIOLATION.

    The law should never be based on subjective, unverifiable claims. The law should be based on reality and fact, not someone's feelings. Especially, the government should never be in a position to enforce laws dictating what is acceptable opinion, emotion, or state-of-mind. EVEN. IF. YOU. AGREE. WITH. THEM.

    I won't invoke Slippery Slope here, but whoever applauds this, seeing no downside, is dancing on Teflon Mountain wearing butter boots.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 10:53pm

    My thoughts

    Well, since the article references the previous article, I'd like to reference my comment on that article, since my stance hasn't changed and I think I made good points.

    something less horrific.

    Horrific? I don't know, it takes a little more than that to inspire horror in me.

    Losing the mark wouldn't infringe on Snyder's speech by preventing him from using the word for his team and merchandise. It would simply allow everyone who wanted to use an openly racist term on merchandise to do so, which would almost certainly lead to Snyder changing the name of the team


    In summary, you want the government to take an action, and you want them to do so solely because you think it would affect a particular person's speech.

    Imagine if the Pirate Party was denied exclusive use of their name because it contained the word "pirate". You'd be the first one to explain exactly why the government's actions in that case would be infringing on their rights - and all the arguments you'd make there would apply here.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2014 @ 11:57pm

    "Registration is refused because the applied-for mark REDSKINS HOG RINDS consists of or includes matter which may disparage or bring into contempt or disrepute persons, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols."


    I'm going to assume that this rejection is based on the term and not a logo or anything.

    This case is kind of weird because of the product involved. Pork rinds literally ARE skin. If they're tinged red, this name makes sense. Of course, you also can't trademark a name that's merely descriptive of the product.

    Frankly, I see no reason why the law should prevent a trademark from being granted on a disparaging name. Especially if it's the case that even if the trademark is denied, you cannot stop them from selling a product with that name. (I'm sure you could think of product names that you could not use even if you used them without trademarks - for example, "John Doe Is A Murderer" brand T-shirts would be libelous if he wasn't one, "Official Government" brand tax advisers would be shut down as fraudulent, and "The NSA Demands We Turn Over All Your Phone Records" brand T-shirts from AT&T would have violated the secrecy order back when it was still a secret - but how often do those come up?) In any realistic case, the only thing you can do by denying the trademark is stop them from selling it exclusively - which means you are arguing for the legal right of *everyone* to use that name in their products. It just doesn't seem like that's the right way to go. Not to mention the problems with some government bureaucrat deciding what is or is not offensive.

    Not to mention, the real purpose of trademark is not just to protect the companies - it's to prevent *consumer* confusion. It does not help the consumer to lose that protection because the government doesn't like the product name of what they choose to buy.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 12:25am

    Re: Re: Honestly...

    Does that means that if someone complained it would be a Blackhawk Down?

     

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  31.  
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    Paraquat (profile), Jan 14th, 2014 @ 1:48am

    hog rinds

    Late last month, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied an application to register a trademark for "Redskins Hog Rinds," a product wholly unrelated to the Washington football team. The USPTO's reasoning for refusing the trademark is simple: It's offensive.

    I agree entirely with the USPTO - the term "hog rinds" is offensive. As a long time supporter of boar rights, I think it's high time that we banished the racist term hog which has many negative connotations, as does the equally offensive word pig.

     

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  32.  
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    trollificus (profile), Jan 14th, 2014 @ 2:19am

    Re: My thoughts

    Thanks for the link. I cannot believe TechDirt endorses this guy's knee-jerk PC campaign, nor his hateful, ugly contempt for those who disagree.

    Maybe Timothy here should work for the government himself instead of 'contributing' to a site that usually looks out for the freedom of individuals. I mean, somebody so certain of their own superiority really ought to be ruling...errr...'serving' the public, right?

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 2:34am

    Re:

    "white men making gobs of money off of a reference to the skin color of a group of people"

    "Losing the mark ... would simply allow everyone who wanted to use an openly racist term on merchandise to do so, which would almost certainly lead to Snyder changing the name of the team to something less horrific."

    So by not granting this trademark the USPTO is being a bunch of Indian givers. Wait ... did I just offend someone?

     

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  34.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jan 14th, 2014 @ 4:14am

    Re: Honestly...

    I'm thinking here.. You can't call black people black because it's offensive, you can't call indians redskins because it's ofensive, you probably can't call Japs yellow skins because it's probably offensive. How should I start calling myself so I won't offend some retarded thin-skinned white person? Caucasian?

    The prejudice is ingrained in the minds of a good chunk of the population.

    Note: I'm willing to bet a lot of Americans (and possibly others that are influenced) felt the term Jap is offensive towards our Asian brothers and sisters but I will use it nonetheless. It is a way of demonstrating affection to the Japanese and their descendants here where I live so I'll ignore the prejudice within your heads. Which in the end falls squarely with what's being discussed in the article. Is it really being used in an offensive manner?

     

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  35.  
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    Rusty Shackelford, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 4:20am

    Re: Honestly...

    I agree with you 110%

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 4:38am

    redskin=genocide?

    wasnt redskin slang for the scalps of native americans? Given that a bounty was paid for each I'm not sure i'd name my team after a genocide policy.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 4:56am

    Re: Re: Honestly...

    "How should I start calling myself "

    How about honky ass whitey cracker




    "It is a way of demonstrating affection to the Japanese and their descendants here where I live"

    Terms of endearment - isn't that special

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 5:58am

    Jesus Christ people are sensitive these days.

    At this rate we'll be cheering the Miami Elevated Temperature Complexers in no time.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 7:03am

    Re: Re:

    Riiiiiight, because it's not a minority that you're insulting. Guess that's the reasoning why only white people can commit hate crimes too right?

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 7:19am

    Re: Well, as long as government is enforcing GOOD speech.....

    Hear, hear!

    (And the "slippery slope" isn't a fallacy because its invocation is wrong--the problem with the argument is that you can't know exactly *where* the slope bottoms out but, based on precedent, we know damn well that every time speech is controlled by those who think they know better (see: every single despotic regime in human history, from ancient empires where criticizing the emperor was grounds for execution to Nazi Germany), it ends *badly*.)

     

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  41.  
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    Pragmatic, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 7:34am

    Re: Well, as long as government is enforcing GOOD speech.....

    Unfortunately, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This means that for every deliberately offensive jerkoff there is an outspoken individual who thrives on what can best be described as professional indignation.

    What can we do about it?

    Be kinder and more respectful to each other so the idiots on both sides become fewer in number till they finally shut up. Hell, we can all dream, can't we?

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 7:56am

    No complaints about Vikings yet?

    I find Wasington Redskins about as offensive as Minnesota Vikings, meaning not at all. Both names were selected because of the perceived "Bad-*ss" qualities and fighting prowess of the groups in question. So basically a compliment in our culture that often glorifies violence.
    I'm sure Viking was not always used as a compliment either, considering their frequent raping and pillaging of European coastal villages but I don't hear any Danish people complaining about it.

     

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  43.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Jan 14th, 2014 @ 8:03am

    Re: Festive collection of Flowers for Brazil

    Reported as spam

     

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  44.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Jan 14th, 2014 @ 8:06am

    Re: Well, as long as government is enforcing GOOD speech.....

    > I find it offensive when people (the freedom-loving
    > denizens of TechDirt for instance) who (rightly) find so
    > much government action objectionable, and who so
    > frequently (and rightly) worry about the growth of
    > government power, are perfectly fine with the use of
    > such power when it fits their own preferences, prejudices,
    > or favorite means of generating smug superiority.

    Yep. This site has taken an admirable stand over the years against the use of IP to law as a tool for silencing speech because it's unpopular or disliked, yet on this one issue, suddenly it becomes perfectly fine to use IP law to silence speech that at least one of the main authors here doesn't like.

    It's a particularly glaring bit of hypocrisy.

     

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  45.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 14th, 2014 @ 9:05am

    Re: Re: Well, as long as government is enforcing GOOD speech.....

    What speech, exactly, is being "silenced"?

     

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  46.  
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    Dances with Focus Groups, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 9:28am

    I like how all you white people have decided what is or isn't an offensive term for an oppressed minority. Bigot much?

     

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  47.  
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    PRMan, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 10:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Honestly...

    Your name is offensive to Martians everywhere as you are mocking their greatest hero. :)

     

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  48.  
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    PRMan, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 10:21am

    Re: Re: Honestly...

    Actually, all my black friends think "African American" is ridiculous and prefer black.

     

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  49.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Jan 14th, 2014 @ 10:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Well, as long as government is enforcing GOOD speech.....

    Looks like Redskins Hog Rinds can't sell its product the way they want while enjoying the same trade monopoly over its name as every other business.

    They either have to alter their speech or handicap themselves by going without the economic protections that their competitors enjoy. And this precedent, of course, can cause others to refrain from 'speaking' the way they might otherwise choose to, resulting in a chilling effect.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 10:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Honestly...

    I have said for a very long time, the responsibility for being offended by statements made by others lies with the offended as they are the ones in control of how they react to what they experience. You cannot be offended by something you see or hear unless you allow yourself to be.

     

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  51.  
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    Nastybutler77 (profile), Jan 14th, 2014 @ 10:44am

    Re:

    I like how 90% of Native Americans don't think "Redskins" is offensive. Talk out your ass much?

    http://www.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org/redskins-question-in-2004-annenberg-study-cited-anew -in-controversy/

     

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  52.  
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    Nastybutler77 (profile), Jan 14th, 2014 @ 10:46am

    Re: Re:

    No shit, Sherlock.

     

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  53.  
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    Nastybutler77 (profile), Jan 14th, 2014 @ 10:49am

    Re: Re:

     

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  54.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 14th, 2014 @ 11:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Well, as long as government is enforcing GOOD speech.....

    "Looks like Redskins Hog Rinds can't sell its product the way they want while enjoying the same trade monopoly over its name as every other business."

    So, just so I'm clear, you look at the USPTO refusing to limit the speech of the greater population in commerce and label that a limitation of speech. Interesting version of reality you have there....

     

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  55.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 14th, 2014 @ 11:11am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Boom nothing. That poll was flawed, as outlined here.

    http://newspaperrock.bluecorncomics.com/2012/12/annenbergs-redskins-survey.html

     

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  56.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 11:53am

    Re: Re:

    Ah yes, because when I want to understand what a minority group thinks about a slur against them, I turn to questionable polls that poll people who aren't even members of that minority group. Tuck in that bigotry you're letting hang out all over the place. It's disgusting.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Redskins_name_controversy#Public_opinion_polls

     

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  57.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 12:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Honestly...

    Everything seems to be offensive to somebody.
    Yes, and? It's like you have an ocean of wisdom that's kilometers wide and a centimeter deep. Not all offensive things are equal, and treating them like they are with this specious, insipid phrase repeated as nauseum as if it were some deep universal truth just reveals your lack of creativity and desperate desire to preserve the status quo.

    Bravo.

     

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  58.  
    icon
    John85851 (profile), Jan 14th, 2014 @ 3:34pm

    Just name the team for something to do with the city

    I think at this point most people think the term is offensive for a football term. However, I also think the team owner has become so entrenched in his own opinion that he can't change his mind without "losing face".

    But as I said before in a similar thread, this whole issue could be avoided by naming the team after something that relates to Washington, like the Capitals (hockey) or Senators (baseball). I think the team should be called the Washington Presidents. Their logo could be a headshot of George Washington for home games and a headshot of Lincoln for away games.

    Then again, going by what some of the other posters are saying, I'm sure there would be some people who would be offended by a sports team using our great leaders for such a crass purpose as a team logo.

     

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  59.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Jan 14th, 2014 @ 4:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well, as long as government is enforcing GOOD speech.....

    Look, you and Masnick and all the others that regularly write for this site have consistently taken the position that using IP law for purposes for which it was not intended, or to do an end run around the law to accomplish something via IP that couldn't otherwise legally be accomplished is an inappropriate abuse of IP law.

    Yet that's exactly what you're advocating here. The purpose of trademark law is to prevent consumer confusion as to the origin of a product in commerce. That's it. It's purpose is not to confer a government endorsement or 'sanctification' (your words) of the business that receives the trademark. Nor is it the purpose of trademark law for the government to prevent people from being offended by a business's name. Based on every other position you guys take on the issues surrounding IP law, I honestly can't believe you'd be in favor of giving the government that power, but apparently you, at least, are.

    That's fine. It's your opinion and you're entitled to it, but don't pretend it doesn't fly in the face of the stance you and this site have taken on the issue of IP law abuse in the past. Apparently IP law abuse is fine when you're heart's in the right place and your intentions are pure. Or something like that.

     

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  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 14th, 2014 @ 5:46pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Do you still have the receipt of that sarcasm detector?
    If yes you should demand your money back.

     

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

  61.  
    icon
    skns2thend (profile), Jan 14th, 2014 @ 6:33pm

    redskins name

    How can a name be offensive when it's not directed specifically at someone? Cry babies and bored writers with nothing else to write about. Not to mention all the people who just lay around waiting on the chance to yell "civil rights" violation. Anyone know what the 1st Amendment states? The Washington Redskins franchise has been in existence since 1932. Granted they started as the Boston Braves. Though, the Redskins name has been with us in our history for 80 years and we now want to make a big case of it. Hell, we as Americans (White, Black, Native and whatever race is in this "melting pot" we call America)are offended on a daily basis but we, as adults, continue through and let the whiners do their shouting, complaining, derogatory comments and whatever is involved in our everyday routine. Doesn't make what we see or hear right because it's routine. Though, if we raise a "stink" each time see or hear offensive language, names and logos-Or each time our child has his feelings hurt due due to some racial slur or comment...we would all live in total chaos. It's time to grow up and deal with it.

     

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  62.  
    identicon
    Two_Dynamite, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 12:53am

    Re: Honestly...

    Chief is not a "offensive term", it is a position in a tribe and is not limited to aboriginal people. Blackhawk may be limited to North American aboriginals, but is not derogatory.

    Redskin is a racial slur and is used to demean an entire people. It is offensive, I don't care how long they've had the name or how much of a "headache" it isn.

     

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  63.  
    identicon
    Marcel Popescu, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 1:58am

    Report button missing

    Where's the report button on articles? I've about had it with Timmy's PC bullshit.

     

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  64.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 4:16am

    Re: Re: Honestly...

    "Blackhawk may be limited to North American aboriginals, but is not derogatory."

    Well, that's true, but ends up being besides the point. The Blackhawks are named after a local military armory, not any Native tribe.

     

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  65.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 4:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well, as long as government is enforcing GOOD speech.....

    "Look, you and Masnick and all the others that regularly write for this site have consistently taken the position that using IP law for purposes for which it was not intended, or to do an end run around the law to accomplish something via IP that couldn't otherwise legally be accomplished is an inappropriate abuse of IP law."

    Well, that's simply not true. I won't speak for the Maz, but I've never been dogmatic about how IP is used. My only concern was that it server its GENERAL purpose of promoting the progress, which, interestingly, DENYING trademarks can do, as in this case, where more people would be able to use more speech in more commerce. Yet you have a problem with it, because you seem to think that this is outside of trademark's scope, despite the fact that denying degrading language is baked into the law. It's, honestly, a very strange position to take for anyone that isn't emotionally tied to the team name....

    "Yet that's exactly what you're advocating here."

    Mmmm, no. It's not an inappropriate use at all, it's baked directly into the law. This isn't some new end-around, it's been around forever.

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

    "It's purpose is not to confer a government endorsement or 'sanctification' (your words) of the business that receives the trademark."

    Nobody said that was its "purpose", it's just the de facto nature of a govt. granted privilege. Similarly, the purpose of diplomatic relations isn't to end up with an emissary in a foreign country in an embassy that must be guarded and protected....that's just the nature of the position. Your point is literally not saying anything.

    "Nor is it the purpose of trademark law for the government to prevent people from being offended by a business's name."

    You seem to think this has to do with people being offended. It doesn't. Words can be disparaging by their very nature without any need for validation by the target. If I don't care enough for a homosexual man sitting next to me to call him a cocksucking faggot, his laughing it off doesn't make my words NOT disparaging. The issue is the nature and history of the word, not how many people are offended. The term Redskin OBVIOUSLY is a disparaging term, as has been cited in previous articles.

    "Based on every other position you guys take on the issues surrounding IP law, I honestly can't believe you'd be in favor of giving the government that power, but apparently you, at least, are."

    Again, the govt. is taking an action that actually allows for more speech by more people in more commerce, not less. That would seem to be entirely consistent with what we discuss here. I think you may have some blinders on preventing you from seeing this....

    "Apparently IP law abuse is fine when you're heart's in the right place and your intentions are pure. Or something like that."

    You keep repeating that this is abuse, but you haven't bothered to explain what the balls you're talking about. Disparagement is written into Trademark law. The USPTO just showed how it's supposed to have been done. What "abuse"? Was the USPTO wrong for denying this mark? Do you not think disparagement clauses exist? Do you somehow think that the term Redskin is not a disparaging term?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redskin_(slang)

     

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  66.  
    icon
    skns2thend (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 5:27am

    Seems like no one does the research on the name 'REDSKINS' and/or it's origin. Unlike all the other racial slurs and the comparisons thereof which have been used to degrade the Redskins' name, the 'white man' didn't give this name to the Native Americans. They (The Indian Tribe),themselves, attached their heritage to the name in honor and to serve their selves with the warrior name. I try to stay out of the politics of this matter so that I can look at the name for it's {actual}worth and meaning to all people. Then there are the writers, columnists and reporters using the media to express their personal feelings and views only to be on the higher than thou side. They write to tell us how we should view and feel about this issue which is not their job. they tell us thru their paper and posts that the name becomes derogatory when we stop to debate the meaning of the word. There's definitely bigger issues to write about and express feelings for. We can all forget about the government giving wall street banks over 2 trillion dollars for bailout money but not help Joe's bank with his mortgage while he is being foreclosed and his family losing the so called 'American Dream'...but we just can't let an 80 year old sport franchise have their name and be a 'Product of Entertainment'. Is there a snowballs chance in hell that could possibly happen?

     

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  67.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 6:45am

    Re:

    What the hell does the origin of the word have to do with its present day use? The meaning of words change. Here's a brief history of the term Redskin, which changed from a self-identifier to a word meant to disparage.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2013/09/09/220654611/are-you-ready-for-some-controvers y-the-history-of-redskin

     

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  68.  
    icon
    skns2thend (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 6:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well, as long as government is enforcing GOOD speech.....

    Where and how something, especially this word, originates means everything, dumb ass. The meaning you so kindly give in your reply has the key word 'used'. There are plenty of words that can be used in derogatory fashion, but, as idiots on this issue fail to realize, this is a sports franchise and a name that is never used or displayed in a negative fashion.

     

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  69.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 7:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well, as long as government is enforcing GOOD speech.....

    I see, so the origin means everything and the current use means nothing. Words and meanings don't evolve, EVAR!!!!

    And I'm the dumbass? Outstanding work there....

     

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  70.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 7:51am

    "Again, the govt. is taking an action that actually allows for more speech by more people in more commerce."

    This leaves me confused. How can "removing" a word allow for more speech? Are others now able to wax poetic using the "word" that you deem offensive?

     

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  71.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 8:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well, as long as government is enforcing GOOD speech.....

    > Mmmm, no. It's not an inappropriate use at all, it's
    > baked directly into the law. This isn't some new
    > end-around, it's been around forever.

    Lots of things are 'in the law' that are regularly criticized on this site as being inappropriate and outside the purpose of IP law. How many articles have we had criticizing aspects of the DMCA here on TechDirt? Things like the anti-circumvention clause are 'baked directly into' that law and have been around forever, too. Doesn't mean it's an appropriate use of IP law and this site regularly points it out. So telling me "Well, it's in the law, so it must be cool" is a bit of a non-starter. I've never suggested that there isn't a clause in the trademark statute (probably added by some 'progressive' member of Congress as an amendment in exchange for favors) that allows the USPTO to make these silly rulings. I'm contending, much like TechDirt has done with the DMCA's anti-circumvention clause, that's it's not appropriate for the government to be using IP law in this manner, legal or not.

    > Nobody said that was its "purpose", it's just the de facto
    > nature of a govt. granted privilege.

    No, the grant of a trademark by the government to a business is not equivalent to a sanctification or endorsement of that business, no matter how many times you claim it is. Just like granting a liquor license doesn't mean the government is endorsing Hooters. Or granting a business license doesn't mean the government is sanctifying an adult book store.

    > The term Redskin OBVIOUSLY is a disparaging term, as
    > has been cited in previous articles.

    Whether it is or is not disparaging is not the issue and not an argument I'm making one way or the other. My contention is that it's none of the government's business, nor is it the appropriate role of government to be regulating such things. If the name of a business is offensive and disparaging, then the market will dictate the success or failure of that business.

     

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  72.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 8:21am

    Re:

    "This leaves me confused. How can "removing" a word allow for more speech? Are others now able to wax poetic using the "word" that you deem offensive?"

    Ok, try to follow with me now: they....are....not....removing...the...word. They aren't preventing the Washington team from retaining their name, they aren't preventing them from using it in commerce, they aren't preventing anyone from saying that word. At all.

    All removing the trademark would do is allow EVERYONE to use the word in commerce. Currently, only the Washington team can do so in their market. Removing the mark would allow for more speech, not less.

     

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  73.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 8:40am

    Re: Re:

    What the hell does the origin of the word have to do with its present day use?


    An excellent question, especially since, according to your link:

    The
    word began to fade from everyday usage in the 1960s

     

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

  74.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 15th, 2014 @ 8:50am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Er, yes, because it was derogatory and unacceptable....unless, apparently, you're an NFL team.

     

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  75.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 9:20am

    Re: Re:

    All removing the trademark would do is allow EVERYONE to use the word in commerce.


    Yes, that's the direct effect. But the only reason you want that effect is that you think it will get them to stop using the word. I know you're familiar with the idea of a chilling effect.

    Their use of the word is speech. The speech may have almost no value and may be offensive, but it's still speech, and I object to a group using the power of the government to try to get them to change it.

    And... I don't know, maybe I just have a hard time seeing the use of single words as highly offensive to large groups. Maybe I don't like the idea that we must throw away a word forever because it was a negative term at some point. Maybe I don't like that they're objecting to a term that you won't even SEE outside of sports teams. Maybe I don't like that "Dykes On Bikes" can get a registered trademark because it's somehow OK if it's members of that group that use the term, even if some of the other members still find it offensive. Maybe I don't like that as a group they waited like 40 years before objecting.

     

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  76.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2014 @ 9:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well, as long as government is enforcing GOOD speech.....

    "It's purpose is not to confer a government endorsement or 'sanctification' (your words) of the business that receives the trademark."

    Nobody said that was its "purpose", it's just the de facto nature of a govt. granted privilege.


    No, that is not its nature. The government grants me the copyright on this post of mine. It also grants you a copyright on YOUR post. By your logic, the government is endorsing both of our posts, even though they are opposed. (And this would not change if we had to register the copyright - neither copyright would be denied registration, or at least not because of the views expressed.)

     

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

  77.  
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    btrussell (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 3:00am

    Re: Inaccurate Hyperbole

    It needed saying both times.

     

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

  78.  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 3:22am

    Re:

    Hopefully no one wants to make potato chips with red skinned taters.

    And from what I see and hear of the American public, I would think that they find the term "hog" more offensive.

     

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

  79.  
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    btrussell (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 3:46am

    Re: Re:

    "All removing the trademark would do is allow EVERYONE to use the word in commerce. Currently, only the Washington team can do so in their market. Removing the mark would allow for more speech, not less."

    "Redskin is an offensive name, lets remove the trademark so everyone can use it."

    Stick to humour. Or is this parody that we all missed?

     

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

  80.  
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    skns2thend (profile), Jan 16th, 2014 @ 12:04pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    As most other words deemed as offensive, I believe it's still in the way you use, and direct the word...and I don't see the word, itself, as offensive. Either way the real issue at hand is that it's the name of a NFL Franchise and rather or not the name should be changed should not be up for debate and challenge/influenced by our government. The issue and it's policies therein should solely be the NFL's and the Washington Redskins' decision. Though your point of removing the trademark only allows the name to be more freely used without any repercussions and/or consequences.

     

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


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