Washington Redskins' lawyers enumerate other grossly offensive trademarks for the USPTO


#1

[Read the post]


#2

I am shocked! Shocked!


#3

The lawyers have a point, but I can’t help feeling that the Washington Team That Must Not Be Named will only win a pyhrric victory if they win this one. If they win they’re kinda acknowledging that their chosen name is every bit as offensive as those others. Which was something they were arguing the opposite of just a while ago.

Congratulations, Nameless Washington Team, you’ve won the right to be offensive, which you had all along. That’s the problem.


#4

Shorter Washington Assholes: EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING IT, SO WHY CAN’T WE?!

That doesn’t work in preschool, it ain’t gonna fly now fellas.


#5

I wonder how many of those names are ironic - for example, I can easily see BAKED BY A NEGRO bakery goods being a successful black-owned business.


#6

Turns out it is - I expected YID DISH to be a hipsterish deli (and there may be one somewhere), but rather wonderfully it turns out that YID♥DISH is registered to a Jewish online dating service.


#7

“Licensed Serial Killer” is trademarked? Darn, there goes my business plan.


#8

Thank you for not printing the name; I’m surprised and disgusted that Cory used it so many times.


#9

I can’t believe this is trademarked! it is really more of a… a… title, or… or… suffix for your name… like LCSW… although my social worker wife may claim it isn’t EXACTLY like it…


#10

Ha, I see what you did there.

I think, at this point, there are probably only three ways they will change the name: 1.) enough fans are actually offended that they boycott the team and the team starts losing money (unlikely, knowing football fans), or 2.) the team is bought by some wealthy Native American group like a casino (which, ironically, would make a lot of those self-righteous fans who have been defending the name actually start boycotting the games in protest of the name change), or 3.) gigantic coordinated protests that disrupt every single Washington home and away game to the point where the NFL steps in and demands they change the name or get kicked out of the league, simply so they can all get back to business as usual. In each case money is the only thing that matters here.


#11

I’m generally cool with fewer trademarks, so I’ve got no major issues with the gov’t ruling these all are invalid.

I’ve also got no real problem wit the gov’t ruling that even offensive trademarks are valid, because the problem with offensive trademarks is more a moral and ethical problem than a legal one. MAKING them change the name won’t stop the bigotry that causes them to be OK with the name in the first place.


#12

I’m amused and concerned that such an apparently lily-white man has such delicate sensibilities around the mere printing of a word, in a context that clearly does not endorse its racist content.

If you start to feel faint, let us know. We can pull up a couch, perhaps find you some pearls to clutch until you feel better. How you have suffered on behalf of these people!


#13

I didn’t realize there was a major sports team called TWATTY GIRL.


#14

I don’t think any of these trademarks is analogous to the Washington football team’s name, because the football team’s name isn’t just offensive, it’s about oppressing people who aren’t the owners of the mark.

Take “Dangerous Negro,” for example. It appears to be a site selling black pride merchandise, and I’m willing to bet it’s owned by a black person. That’s very different from a bunch of white people calling their sports team the Dangerous Negros.

Some of the misogynist (or misogyny-adjacent) porn site names get a little closer. But the marks are still descriptive of their product, not just a random slur.


#15

Some of us prefer not to use racial slurs because we want to be decent people. I see how that might be confusing for you.


#16

“in a context that clearly does not endorse its racist content” seems perfectly clear to me.


#17

The team should change their name, but the patent office shouldn’t be the place to fight that battle. That’s just a losing battle.

The team has a first amendment right to use the name, and it’s silly to dispute that. They have a social and moral reason not to. Let’s focus on those reasons.


#18

That most certainly can work in this context. “The government officially grants protection to the following offensive names, but not our offensive name” is a pretty good basis for an as-applied challenge to the constitutionality of the relevant portions of US trademark law. (“As-applied” meaning “it’s unconstitutional as applied in this case,” not “the law barring registration of offensive trademarks is always unconstitutional,” though they’ve made that argument elsewhere in the brief.)


#19

This seems like it would be a problem. I mean, people have pointed out that you wouldn’t name a team something like the Washington [racist term for black people] or the Washington [racist term for Jews] by way of logical analogy to show why this is wrong. Now the team’s lawyers are saying, “Actually, we could name our team those things.”

I think the question is a question of law that I don’t know the answer to. It looks to me like these cases take into account not some abstract idea of the offensiveness inherent in the term, but the actual offense that people take at the term, and specifically the offense taken by the group the term is offensive to (so whether or not I find the Washington team not offensive doesn’t matter, but whether indigenous people in America do does).

Anyway, I think there is a legal question here I don’t know the answer to. I don’t really know what the test is for an offensive trademark. They bring up trademarks with “Negro” in them, but I don’t see any with certain more offensive terms (“Negro” is antiquated, but it is the word MLK used in “I have a dream”, it’s not the top of the heap for offensiveness - mean, I can bring myself to type it in quotation marks). The legal question may end up being whether the Washington team name is that sort of category one offensive term. But if that is the legal question, the only people who can answer that are the people who the term targets.


#20

For what it’s worth, this issue may end up all but decided before the Washington case is decided by the appeals court, because there’s another case in the pipeline where the plaintiffs (supported by the ACLU, among others) argue that the federal law barring registration of offensive trademarks violates the First Amendment.