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.

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

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F. Fud Bailey says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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). 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.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

ChronoFish (profile) says:

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!


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Give'm what the ask for!

“News black-out. That’s what they are asking for.”


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.

Greg G (profile) says:

Re: 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.

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