How The Redskins' Delightfully Vulgar Court Filing Won Me Over

from the team-redskins dept

I’ve never really made it a secret how much I loathe the Washington Redskins organization. I dislike their tasteless, stupid, racist team name. I hate their dumb, overly-litigious owner. And I really have nothing but disdain for the team’s attempt to control public perception by strong-arming the media. And, in past posts, I’ve come down on the side of the government when it cancelled the team’s trademark for its name, declaring that the government shall not be in the business of granting trademarks for terms that are disparaging. I was slightly less comfortable when the DOJ made a weak argument that denying the trademark wasn’t a First Amendment violation, but, still, no Redskins trademark was a good thing in my mind, partially because I hate the Redskins.

But I hate hypocrisy more. And government hypocrisy is the most delicious hate-meal I’ve ever found, which is why I’m jumping ship and declaring myself on team Redskins. What hypocrisy am I talking about? Well, the government’s hypocrisy as delightfully and vulgarly laid out in this filing the team put in its appeals case.

The PTO has registered hundreds if not thousands of marks that the Team believes are racist, or misogynistic, vulgar,
or otherwise offensive. By way of example only, the following marks are registered today: TAKE YO PANTIES OFF clothing; DANGEROUS NEGRO shirts; SLUTSSEEKER dating services; DAGO SWAGG clothing; DUMB BLONDE beer; TWATTY GIRL cartoons; BAKED BY A NEGRO bakery goods; BIG TITTY BLEND coffee; RETARDIPEDIA website; MIDGET-MAN condoms and inflatable sex dolls; and JIZZ underwear. These are not isolated instances. The government routinely registers pornographers’ marks: TEENSDOPORN.COM, MILFSDOPORN.COM, THUG PORN, GHETTO BOOTY, and BOUND GANGBANGS are but a few.

It’s hard to decide exactly which part of this is more fun: the clearly gleeful way the filing lists these apparently valid trademarks or the image in my head of a government mid-level employee stamping “GRANTED” on an application for Big Titty Blend Coffee. Regardless, what’s made clear in this filing is that the government’s unwillingness to grant a trademark on vulgar or disparaging terms is wildly inconsistent. The term Redskins, after all, can’t be said to be any more offensive than “Dago.” What appeared to be a stance by the PTO on grounds of value instead now looks to be wind-socking for the outrage gale. And for the Redskins organization, that sucks and has to be massively frustrating.

And for the argument I had previously made — that government ought not endorse the term “Redskins” through granting it a trademark — to work, the government would need to be consistent on the matter. Otherwise, it is picking and choosing speech as a matter of government acknowledgement. It appears the PTO has proven itself incapable of this consistency, again, per the filing.

No one today thinks registration reflects government approval. But if this Court holds that it does, how will the government explain registrations like MARIJUANA FOR SALE, CAPITALISM SUCKS DONKEY BALLS, LICENSED SERIAL KILLER, YID DISH, DIRTY WHOOORE CLOTHING COMPANY, and MURDER 4 HIRE?

Now, look, is the term Redskins an antiquated, racist term? Absolutely yes. Is it still worth hating Daniel Snyder for making this the hill he wants to die on, rather than simply coming up with another team name? Oh, for sure. But should a government be applying standards of offense to trademark registrations when its shown itself to be incapable of having any consistent standards in doing so? No, I don’t think it should any longer. I did think so, but I was wrong.

So…sigh…go Redskins, I guess.

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Comments on “How The Redskins' Delightfully Vulgar Court Filing Won Me Over”

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119 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

The Redskins have a valid pointy. Every liberal group out there has been trying to snatch the Redskins name away from the NFL team and to ban the Redskins name. But, if they are so concerned at banning words and terms that are offensive to certain groups then every piece of merchandise out there, from Hooters to Dumb Blonde to Slut Shaming should also be banned. The problem is that liberals are trying to apply some form of morality, or what I refer to as ‘selective morality’. There are too many liberals out there using shock value to get everyone riled up over one morality cause or another.

zerosaves (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’m not entirely on board with the name being racist. Some Indian groups do support them, and I do not think of it being used in a disparaging way. No other team is named something weak or to be made fun of. Sports teams are often named after mean, aggressive, or powerful animals or other subjects to portray cunning, prowess and intimidation. You name your team after something badass. You ARE that thing.

JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

First off, “redskin” is nowhere near as insulting as the N word. It’s the about same as “whitey”, which is used in normal conversation (in places) without causing riots and women to faint.

Second, as pointed out, the context is TOTALLY different. The name is used in a way to suggest power and cunning. A closer term than “whitey” as far as context goes would probably be “The Man”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Second, as pointed out, the context is TOTALLY different. The name is used in a way to suggest power and cunning. A closer term than “whitey” as far as context goes would probably be “The Man”.

While I think you are missing the point, I’ll play along.

How long do you think a team named “the really smart asian kids” would be tolerated?

btr1701 says:

Re: Re: Re:

The ACLU may take the occasional non-progressive case, but for an organization that claims to fight for the Bill of Rights, they sure are choosy about some rights over others.

They’ll go balls to the wall against a city for putting up a Christmas tree in their zeal to protect the 1st Amendment, but when it comes to the 2nd Amendment? Crickets…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Oh quit lying, if it were just a Christmas tree they wouldn’t be suing since it isn’t a symbol of a particular religion.
They sue if there is a nativity display underneath that tree and the government refuses to allow other religions to put up a display as well. In that the 1st is simple, either you allow all or allow none on government property.

And that is something a whole lot of Christian fanatics don’t understand and don’t want to understand since they absolutely must piss on this territory to mark it as theirs. Making the rest of us Christians look bad and be at the same time the best advertisement against Christianity as a religion.

The 2nd does not have this problem the government willfully ignoring the constitution and not having to fear a public backlash for trying to do so (as compared to NOT ignoring the 1st tends to generate the outrage).
Just remember the outrage the last time Obama suggested (not proposed a law or anything just suggested) that we might want to look at ways to keep guns out of hands of mentally ill people with violent tendencies.
The ACLU didn’t have to do anything.
Further the first place people go if there would be such a violation is the NRA since it has placed itself as a defender of gun rights though the ACLU would file an amicus brief if the NRA would ever have to sue a violator.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

| if it were just a Christmas tree they wouldn’t be suing since it isn’t a symbol of a particular religion.

Umm, what did you just say? Are you seriously trying to claim that a Christmas tree is not a symbol of the Christmas holiday? Or do you think that other religions also celebrate Christmas? You sound very confused.

I don’t mind at all if the government allows religious displays (pretty lights!), as long as they allow all religions, but don’t try to claim that symbols of a religious holiday aren’t also symbols of that religion.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I didn’t say a Christmas tree is symbolic of the birth of Jesus. I said a Christmas tree is symbolic of the holiday of Christmas. That was pretty much my exact words, please read more carefully. Did you happen to notice the first word in the name ‘Christmas tree’? To follow your example, are you next going to claim that Easter Eggs (the painted, usually chicken-derived type) are not symbolic of Easter?

Btw, what does the star on top of (most?) Christmas trees mean to you?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Why should the ACLU get interested in the second amendment? They’ve never been close to the issue. You’re trying to argue by parsing their name perhaps.

Much more interesting is a leftward drift of the ACLU. They’ve added a lot of “soft”, “progressive” causes to their menu. I might be in favor of those for their own sake, but by a different organization. The ACLU should stick to traditional civil liberties and retain broad support.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Why should the ACLU get interested in the second
> amendment?

Because in their charter– you know, that thing that provides the basis for an organization’s existence?– they claim their entire reason for existing is to maintain the Bill of Rights against government encroachment.

The 2nd Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights.

Can you see the logic here?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

The ACLU has supported 2nd ammendment cases.

https://reason.com/blog/2007/04/06/the-aclu-defends-gun-rights

http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2014/04/robert-farago/aclu-defends-missouri-gun-rights-guy/

There are more. I just didn’t feel like googling for more than 30 seconds.

Furthermore the NRA has got it covered. They are a one issue group and they’ve got a budget of ~$250M/yr while the ACLU has a budget of ~$135/yr. Faulting them for spending their money on the 2nd amendment is just cherry-picking.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Furthermore the NRA has got it covered.

Even if you want to hand-wave away the ACLU’s lack of attention to the 2nd Amendment as due to the NRA’s occupation of that space, you still have no explanation for the ACLU’s lack of attention to the 10th Amendment, which is also a part of the Bill of Rights.

There’s no behemoth analogous to the NRA that’s fighting 10th Amendment cases such that the ACLU is free to ignore them. And it’s not like there’s no shortage of 10th Amendment cases to press. The federal government is like that plant in LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS– eating up everything in sight and growing larger and larger by the minute. There are 10th Amendment issues in just about everything the federal government does these days, but once again, crickets from the ACLU, because, as a generally leftist/progressive organization, they like the idea of a strong central government running things for everyone. The idea of telling the feds, “No, this bit doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to the states and some of the states may not share your agenda” is anathema to the folks who work at the ACLU.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

They’ll go balls to the wall against a city for putting up a Christmas tree in their zeal to protect the 1st Amendment, but when it comes to the 2nd Amendment? Crickets…

Perhaps they have correctly deduced that the gun lobby is handling that just fine, whereas there is no powerful wealthy lobbying organization fighting to protect the 1st amendment. I don’t know if that’s actually their motivation, but it would certainly be sufficient to explain their focus.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I appreciate the ACLU organization, and support them,
> but I would rather see them focus on the less defended
> areas. We got the 2nd covered for now πŸ™‚

That might be fine if they just left 2nd Amendment cases alone altogether, but in some instances they actually take the pro-government side– submitting amicus briefs in favor of government restriction on 2nd Amendment rights.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Perhaps they have correctly deduced that the gun lobby
> is handling that just fine, whereas there is no powerful
> wealthy lobbying organization fighting to protect the 1st
> amendment.

There are all sorts of pro-1st Amendment legal defense funds and law school clinics out there.

FIRE comes to mind just off the top of my head.

No, the real reason is that the ACLU just doesn’t like the 2nd Amendment, so it doesn’t bother fighting to uphold it.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

There are all sorts of pro-1st Amendment legal defense funds and law school clinics out there.

Yes, but no multi-billion dollar corporate lobbies. That I know of, anyway.

No, the real reason is that the ACLU just doesn’t like the 2nd Amendment, so it doesn’t bother fighting to uphold it.

That is plausible, but I wonder if you have any evidence for it.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Libruls, Repugs, ... Pick a side and fight!

The problem is that liberals are trying to apply some form of morality, or what I refer to as ‘selective morality’.

Yeah, and conservative, bible belt, moral majority types never do anything even remotely similar. How do you Red Team vs. Blue Team types manage to continue this silly game still?!?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Don’t make the mistake of thinking the word “vulgar” has a simple binary definition. Redskins is vulgar because it is insulting to people who have no say in its use. If the team were all native american players and they chose to call themselves redskins then that would not be vulgar. Shirts that say “dumb blonde” or “dangerous negro” are intended to be purchased by blondes and black people to wear ironically, even defiantly. Context matters even it means you have to think harder to figure it all out.

Some of those trademarks do fall in the same category as redskins but most of them are intended to insult the people who would use those terms derogatively. And stuff like “teensdoporn” jesus, that’s not insulting anyone.

Em K (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Hey, remember, the overwhelming majority of liberals couldn’t give a rip one way or the other on this issues. It is politically correct assholes that care about this. Once upon a time, calling a woman “lady” was the same as calling her a prostitute. Historic slurs taken out of context is no way to run a modern society. Do you know what I associate “redskins” with? Potatos and crappy football.

Anonymous Coward says:

I am not a Redskins fan, but there is nothing more that I hate to see in sports is a team changing it’s name because of whiny people. I believe in tradition. The Marquette Golden Eagles sound incredibly stupid to me and always will. They will always be the Marquette Warriors to me and “Warriors” could be used in many ways. I’ll also take Washington Bullets over Washington Wizards any day. Soldiers use a lot of bullets, could be a patriotic name from some people’s view. I’m sure it was never intended to glorify gang violence or something similar.

I’m so sick of the politically correct people forcing their opinions down the throats of everyone else. Free speech exists for everyone, not a select few.

And, Tim, If you hate the Redskins so much, why do you always seem to be the one that writes about them? Recuse yourself and let someone less biased write the stories.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Native here, I am not offended… so other natives get more of a say on it than I do? Or is my Native quantitatively less Native than theirs? Or is really that I do not qualify because I am not towing the group think line as I am told to?

Any Native that is offended deserves to be offended! Same goes for any OTHER race offended by simple words! Easy to offend is a sign of a simple mind not worth paying any attention to!

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Native here, I am not offended … Or is really that I do not qualify because I am not towing the group think line as I am told to?

Yeah, you’re sort of what Blacks call an “Uncle Tom”. You drank the white guys’ koolaid. Chyaa, right. πŸ˜›

Any Native that is offended deserves to be offended! Same goes for any OTHER race offended by simple words!

Hell, I’m caucasian, and the “Native” designation offends me! I was born here just like they were. My mom even told me (dirty little family secret πŸ™‚ there’s some native blood in my family from back a few generations ago. I wear that with pride!

I wish we could all just toss this stupid appearance BS. Skin color, bone structure, and gender are so damned irrelevant. What’s in a person’s head’s what matters.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Hell, I’m caucasian, and the “Native” designation offends me!

Well “Indian” is both confusing and inaccurate. “Aboriginal” would probably be better than “native” but for some reason that wasn’t selected or didn’t catch on.

My mom even told me (dirty little family secret πŸ™‚ there’s some native blood in my family from back a few generations ago.

There’s a good chance that’s nothing more than a family legend. There are millions of people who claim an unspecified quantity of Native American ancestry from an unspecified person.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

“Aboriginal” would probably be better than “native” but for some reason that wasn’t selected or didn’t catch on.

Follow caucasians back, and you end up in Europe. Follow (North, Central, and South) American Aboriginals and you end up in Siberia. Follow both of them back, and you end up in Olduvai Gorge. We’re all Ethiopian or African. I’m just a paler shade of Negro than regular blacks.

… there’s some native blood in my family from back a few generations ago.

There’s a good chance that’s nothing more than a family legend. There are millions of people who claim an unspecified quantity of Native American ancestry from an unspecified person.

Perhaps because it’s true. Here in Canada, we had a lot of caucasians interbreeding with aboriginals (there’s lots of Metis here), and we almost all (excepting negros and Chinese?) have Neanderthal genes in us.

“Race” is BS. All it does is enable cultural bias; “us vs. them.”

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

“Race” is BS.

That’s a nice thought, but I think most people can tell the difference between an African, a southeast Asian, and a European. Race is an actual thing, even if defining it isn’t easy. Also by denying the reality of race, you are claiming there can’t be any such thing as racial discrimination. But perhaps I misunderstand your claim that race is BS.

R.H. (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

One note about the Kansas City Chiefs. Their team name is taken from the nickname of the mayor who was instrumental in moving the team to the city. The others (with the possible exception of the Braves and Canucks) are proper nouns (the Seminoles are a Native American tribe) or general descriptors (Warriors need not be members of any particular nationality).

ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Atlanta Braves… Criticized for other reasons. e.g., the “Tomahawk Chop”
Cleveland Indians… Not sure how that could be insulting on its own. See Vikings.
Florida State Seminoles… Have an agreement with the tribe, and dispensation to use the spear ceremony.
Kansas City Chiefs… Again, not sure how that’s insulting
Golden State Warriors… Ditto
Vancouver Canucks… The only way that could be considered insulting is that the national nickname is appropriated by one team. See Yankees.

If you can’t see how Redskins is in a different league (as it were) than the above, I don’t know what to tell you other than stop opining on the subject. This is not in your wheelhouse.

btr1701 says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

If you can’t see how Redskins is in a different league
> (as it were) than the above, I don’t know what to
> tell you other than stop opining on the subject. This
> is not in your wheelhouse.

The point isn’t whether it’s insulting or not. The point is that the USPTO made its decision based on political pressure and not the law.

How else to explain why there’s a Redskin Tobacco Company that uses an Indian head logo, and their trademark is still perfectly valid? The government hasn’t made any move to cancel that trademark, yet the football team’s has been. That’s what you call some fucked up banana republic shit, right there.

Drawoc Suomynona (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Redskin Tobacco Company

I just did a quick search of the US trademark register for “Redskin” related to tobacco and I find no applications or registrations, live or dead.

As far as I can tell, from an extensive search (Google), no one has sold tobacco under that brand in decades, and the only products available seem to be spittoons.

Regardless, if it were a registered trademark it would be subject to cancelation too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

At least two thirds of native americans think “redskin” is insulting – that navajo nation president who showed up in owners box at a redskins game was pulling a stunt because his own council had recently voted 9-2 to oppose the redskins name.

Indian is regarded as an insult by a small minority of native americans. You’ll never achieve perfection, but when a word is considered a slur by at least 2:1 of the people slurred that’s a pretty good sign it is not acceptable.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re:

as others say below, not sure why the redskins get piled on while -say- the FS ptui U seminoles get a free pass; ’cause that tomahawk chant is, like, so-o-o-o super respectful of indian heritage…
snort
oh, wait a minute, they bribed enough uncle tom tom’s to get a special dispensation… my mistake…

also agree about team name changes, which often border on the ludicrous: new orleans jazz changing to the UTAH jazz when they moved ? ? ? UTAH, “JAZZ” ? c’mon…
‘yeah, me and martha are going to Salt Lake Jazz Fest with the Hot Mormon Quintet headlining, its where everyone who loves jazz goes…’

just one more reason why sports teams should be locally owned by the citizens, like green bay… which is just one more reason why the sports kingpins will NEVER let that happen again…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

…sports teams should be locally owned by the citizens…

Many teams are owned locally. The problem is that it is increasingly rare to find an ownership or senior management who actually played the sport. The teams who have an ownership/management that actually played the sport are the consistently successful teams, even if they don’t make their playoffs. I’ll cite the NBA’s Phoenix Suns as an example. Under the current ownership this team has had more ‘stinker’ seasons than they ever had under the old ownership.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Agreed. If they don’t like the team, don’t watch football or root for someone else.

I felt the same way about every single Muslim idiot who martyred himself taking out those evil people who drew cartoons mocking the pederast prophet. But who I hated more were the “progressive” defenders in the media who basically blamed the victim for “triggering” oppressed people with their offensive display of Western hegemony. Those dead cartoonists in Paris would be alive today if only they had checked their privilege.

Funny how the “change the channel” argument only applied to their conservative rivals trying to pull Teletubbies and Will & Grace off the air for promoting a nonexistent “gay agenda.” Now that the shoe is on the other foot, and it’s libertarians (not “conservatives” of the Jerry Falwell set) saying J’Accuse to left-wingers trying to pull South Park and Charlie Hebdo for promoting a nonexistent “systemic white privilege” agenda, “change the channel” is suddenly a racist slogan no different from “Arbeit Macht Frei” or “Segregation Forever”?

I’ve had just about enough of whiners on both sides trying to tell me what I can do or believe or draw or look up online or what have you. I support people’s right to offend. No one has the right not to be offended. Change the channel or turn it off if something bothers you that much. But don’t take away other people’s right to enjoy it if they wish (not that anyone really enjoys a Redskins game, but you get my point).

Anonymous Coward says:

These whining ‘we know morals better than everyone else’ is just about reached the end of it’s tether. I’d like to point you at another, which reaches the heights of stupidity as well as shows how far these people are willing to go to set up these incidents.

http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2015/11/04/feminists-are-trying-to-frame-linus-torvalds-for-sexual-assault-claims-open-source-industry-veteran/

If there was ever a move guaranteed to backfire you are looking at it with that link. Already business men are saying they would rather not hire women to avoid sexual harassment charges. Men seem to get by without having to resort to such as often. Give a few more years of this and of the incidents reported often here of happenings on uni campuses and women in the workforce will be really hard to find.

OldMugwump (profile) says:

Re: Since when

There is of course much truth in that.

At the same time, it’s important to keep in mind that American culture treats Indians differently than other minorities.

There’s a strong strain in the culture that respects Indians because they fought back. It’s true they lost, but not without putting up an impressive fight.

That’s why we have so many sports teams named after Indian tribes and terms – Americans respect those who fight hard.

It may be best today to change the team name, but we should also acknowledge that it was chosen as a term of respect – nobody names sports teams after things they disrespect.

Padpaw (profile) says:

I have never seen anything wrong with the name Redskins. Until this current age of political correctness fascism no one had a problem with the team name.

Why is it seen as a derogative use of the name instead of celebrating the use of the name?

Are we going to decide all the other team names have to be changed because some random person decides to start being offended?

Anonymous Coward says:

Dan Snyder just needs to let it rest, these tribes have been protesting the name for quite sometime including the teams super bowl appearance in 1992 ,before any of the so called liberal crusaders jumped on board.

It’s an insulting name and derogatory towards Native Americans that’s all that needs to be said.

Drawoc Suomynona (profile) says:

Interesting arguments but doomed to fail

I’m not comfortable with the idea that approval of a trademark is a form of government speech but I’m also not comfortable with the idea that the US government can be impelled to endorse or display speech which has been deemed vulgar and offensive. Regardless, I don’t see the courts coming around to the idea that this is a first amendment issue and the Lanham Act is not going away, but this is not the end.

Really though, the presence of those other marks on the register does not matter much, since they’ve never been challenged. If they were, some would surely be cancelled, especially the marks that employ seemingly racist language. No doubt confusingly similar marks, and descriptive marks, and offensive marks, make it on to the register, but that’s why there are provisions for opposition and cancelations.

And even after cancelation, there is nothing preventing the use of the REDSKINS trademark under common law, which also undermines the first amendment argument.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Interesting arguments but doomed to fail

I’m not comfortable with the idea that approval of a trademark is a form of government speech but I’m also not comfortable with the idea that the US government can be impelled to endorse or display speech which has been deemed vulgar and offensive.

But a trademark registration is not an endorsement. From the filing: “It strains credulity that the public ‘closely’ associates GUN CONTROL MY ASS and DOES THIS GUN MAKE MY BUTT LOOK BIG? with the federal government, which very recently registered these marks.”

The government does display the speech, but that’s just their own requirement. “The District Court reasoned that in publishing the Official Gazette and the ‘Principal Register,’ the ‘government is the literal speaker.’ But the government publishes copyright registrations, and thus the court’s theory would permit the government to discriminate against books based on content and viewpoint. The government could refuse to provide permits for unpopular rallies if it simply posted all permits on the Internet.”

Really though, the presence of those other marks on the register does not matter much, since they’ve never been challenged. If they were, some would surely be cancelled

Perhaps, but it seems odd in the extreme for the government to claim that something is “its” speech when “it relies exclusively on private citizens to seek cancellation.”

And even after cancelation, there is nothing preventing the use of the REDSKINS trademark under common law, which also undermines the first amendment argument.

Nothing except the loss of equal protection under the law. Like they said, “The government cannot turn the lights off at a Redskins night game because the government disfavors the name, and defend the action because the Redskins can still play in the dark. Registration confers indispensable legal protections, and the government cannot condition those protections on a trademark-owner’s agreement to forgo disfavored speech.”

The entire POINT of the challenge to the registration was to use the power of the government to get them to change their name; you can’t claim that the First Amendment doesn’t apply.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Great Points

Especially about the publication of copyright registrations. Copyright law makes my head pound and I don’t know enough about how copyright and the first amendment interact.

Since a trademark registration is not considered property under the Fifth Amendment, not being granted a registration may not be considered a loss.

I don’t see that freedom of speech entitles one party government mandated exclusivity over the commercial expression of that speech. Courts have given much greater latitude to laws that restrict commercial speech, and individuals are not robbed of their rights of free expression when the government polices commercial speech.

Further, in my eyes, the intention of the challengers is to stop the use of a disparaging trademark. Whether the owner of the mark chooses to change their name, or whether the challenger wants them to choose a new name is really irrelevant.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Interesting arguments but doomed to fail

I’m also not comfortable with the idea that the US
> government can be impelled to endorse or display speech
> which has been deemed vulgar and offensive

For god’s sake, people keep saying this but a trademark is not an endorsement.

A trademark isn’t a government endorsement of that product or its name/logo any more than a adult video shop’s business license means the city that issued it endorses pornography.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Obviously, body, acidity, oiliness, and depth of roast would enter into a final assessment, but I would totally give “Big Titty Blend” coffee a try.

Wouldn’t cup size also be a factor?

Oh sure. And the company could release another line (same product, different packaging) called, “Men Are Oinkers” or “Tiny Penis Heads” which they could market to women.

Some guys’ attitudes make me wonder how any men ever get laid. I suppose many women are just gluttons for punishment or masochists, just like many men. Hey, commonality! Yippee! What’s good for the goose …

John85851 (profile) says:

Just pick a new name

I’ve said before in similar articles, but the obvious solution is to change the name to something that reflects Washington. This way, everyone can save face. For example, the Senators (baseball) or the Capitols (hockey).
How about the Washington Representatives, with a cartoon senator on the helmet? Or the Washington Beltways, with a cartoon highway? Or the Washington Monuments, a team so strong they can’t be pushed around?

Anonymous Coward says:

That some native Americans find the term “redskins” is not the issue.

First off, there is the problem that a minority is relabeling an accepted term to be pejorative with absolutely no proof as no studies have been performed to determine what percentage of Americans/native Americans find it pejorative. We are just supposed to take the word of what can only be labeled a small minority without proof.

Secondly, as the Redskins’ filing pointed out, to selectively remove copyright on one pejorative term without invalidating all the other pejorative terms is selective enforcement. The copyright office can only remove trademark on all potentially pejorative terms or none of them.

Lastly, the definition of just what is & what is not pejorative is highly subjective and many common terms are considered offensive by some. Must we go down the SJW road and remove them all? Is it sufficient that only one person find a term offensive for it to be refused trademark? If not one, then how many?

Before any movement on banning existing trademarks or refusing to accord new ones can be taken, clear rules must be defined and accepted by the courts.

Drawoc Suomynona (profile) says:

Re: Clear rules

The trademark office has rules and the courts have found that they are not impermissibly vague. There’s no evidence here of selective enforcement. None of the other marks mentioned have been challenged, and if they were they would go through the same process.

FWIW you are mixing copyrights and trademarks. Two different critters, and two different governmental offices.

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