Redskins owner sues Native Americans who testified on racism to Trademark Office


#1

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#2

Quite the egregious tactic.


#3

The fact that they lost their trademark suit demonstrates that their current SLAPP lawsuit has no merit.

And they’re free to call themselves the Washington Rednecks if they like.


#4


#5

Whilst I sometimes think (from my position as a privileged white male) that groups can be too quick to “take” offence where none was offered (somebody accidentally plays the wrong national anthem for example - as happened at the last Olympics), this isn’t one of those cases. The offence is perhaps a product of what is hopefully (but slowly) becoming a bygone era. Sensible people will now support the removal of the offending names and image; and the team can move into a new era. The team owner had a chance to do the right thing and score some kudos for doing so. A win-win with some free publicity and a feelgood story. But no, he chose the low road. Christ, what an arsehole.


#6

There are people claiming that this is merely a suit to overturn the trademark decision and the defendants are only nominal because their names were on the original suit to get the trademark decision. I don’t know enough law to know whether this is a fair characterization of the case, and I wonder if anyone here does.

(I mean, either way Dan Snyder should just change the damn name and stop this BS, I just want to understand whether he is actually going after these individuals in some kind of privilege-fueled vendetta, or if their names are on the lawsuit simply because any appeal he made would end up with their names on the lawsuit)


#7

I’m biased in that Snyder got rich, at least at the start, with direct marketing and telemarketing. So fuck him.


#8

That guy sure is a dickhole.


#9

“from a position as a privileged white male”

Well isn’t that nice.


#10

I’m just declaring any perceived/potential conflict. I can’t help who I am. But I am aware that my position, in the minds of many, disqualifies me from commenting at all on matters of discrimination.


#11

I do not understand why Snyder is fighting this so damn hard. I would have thought this would be a great opportunity to re-brand the team. Find an awesome new name that is offensive to no one (naming your team after birds or animals seems pretty safe). Make a pile of t-shirts and other merchandise with the new name and logo. Sell one to every single damn fan your team has… roll around in the profits. And no one can blame them of re-branding just as a cash grab because they have a lawsuit forcing their hand.


#12

Up to this point, I had only taken a passive stance on the Redskins issue. I mean, it’s clearly racist, but so are countless other entities that have transcended the era in which they were created, only to find themselves existing in a different world – Huckleberry Finn being the canonical example.

With this latest development, however, I’m finally convinced. Not only is the team name racist (which was never really in doubt) but the team owner is clearly a douchenozzle who needs to be removed from the NFL. I’m now taking an active stance: fuck that guy and his entire franchise.

Streissand effect, anyone?


#13

Noted.


#14

I think a big part of it is that a lot of rich white men really hate being told what to do or not do, especially by less-rich and/or non-white men.

He may also actually believe that it’s not offensive, just like some decades ago, there were folks who considered certain terms for black people entirely appropriate and correct ways to refer to them.

Beyond that, money.


#15

They just need to find a less aggressive colour skin to name themselves after. Clearly yellow, brown, black and white are out, orangeskins might upset those with fake tans, greenskins will put them toe to toe with certain fantasy franchises, leaving blueskins or greyskins, I doubt cold or dead people would sue them.


#16

This suit will be a huge pain in the ass for the group of Native Americans who sought cancellation of the Redskins’ trademark in the first place, but it isn’t a SLAPP suit.

Under US trademark law, a party whose trademark is cancelled by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (which is what happened here) has two options: it can either appeal the TTAB’s decision to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, or it can file a whole new lawsuit in US District Court in Virginia, where the TTAB is based. Whichever way it goes, the parties to the appeal or the new lawsuit are the same parties who were “interested parties” before the TTAB (that is, the party that challenged the trademark and the party that owned the trademark). Once the Redskins decided they were going to seek review of the TTAB’s ruling, the only question was which court they’d seek review in. The individual Native Americans who challenged the trademark in the first place were always going to be part of that review process.

So why go the “whole new trial” route instead of the direct appeal to the Federal Circuit? Because if the process starts over in district court, the TTAB’s factfinding isn’t entitled to any deference. Basically, the process starts over from square one. If they go to the Federal Circuit, the only question is whether the TTAB properly applied the law to the facts as it determined them; there’s no ability (at least not that would matter in this case) to challenge the TTAB’s findings. By filing in district court in Virginia, the Redskins get themselves a do-over. And the do-over is important here, because by law, the TTAB’s evidence is constrained to the views of the challengers. That’s not the case in district court, where the Redskins will be allowed to put on evidence that there are Native Americans who don’t feel the term is racist. (Which, sadly, is a group that exists.) They weren’t allowed to do that in TTAB proceedings.

tl;dr: This isn’t “asshole Redskins file retaliatory lawsuit against people who stood up to them.” It’s “asshole Redskins seek review of the TTAB’s cancellation decision using one of the two avenues allowed under US law.”

EDIT: and in case it wasn’t clear, Dan Snyder’s an asshole either way.


#17

I’m a born Skins fan, but I agree. When people appear to be bad guys, why do they always double down? Why do they never, ever announce that they have come to agree and they’re having a name contest or something? Do they have no PR people at all?

I dunno man. Who would you rather piss off… Oompa Loomas? Or the goddam grey aliens?


#18

Yes, you are entirely right. Dan Snyder should accept the TTAB’s ruling and also change the racist name of his team, but this suit is nothing more than one of the team’s choices under 15 USC § 1071 for reconsidering the TTAB’s ruling. This is not a completely different, unrelated suit. It is essentially an appeal of the TTAB decision. It isn’t technically an appeal because it involves a whole new trial where new evidence can be presented, but the only issue is the cancelation of the team’s registrations.

Synder’s actions are bad enough. We shouldn’t use misleading headlines and information to try to make him look worse. Let’s spend our time putting a spotlight on his misinformation and lies.


#19

Dan Synder is a huge D-bag and should change the name of his racist team, but this headline and story are pretty misleading. The suit in federal court is one of the ways the team can challenge the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board decision to cancel the team’s registrations. See 15 USC § 1071: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/15/1071. It is not a seperate unrelated lawsuit. I usually expect better from BoingBoing - like their excellent story today about the unredacted FBI threat letter sent to MLK.


#20