The U.S. Patent And Trademark Office Are Indian Givers

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted the owners of the Washington Redskins trademark rights to the name "Redskins" back in 1967. Earlier this week, the decided to take those rights back, arguing that the name Redskins is in violation of the Trademark Act of 1946. The area they cited is: 

"§ 1052 No trademark... shall be refused...unless it: 

a)Consists of or comprises immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter; or matter which may disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute; or a geographical indication which, when used on or in connection with wines or spirits, identifies a place other than the origin of the goods and is first used on or in connection with wines or spirits by the applicant on or after one year after the date on which the WTO Agreement (as defined in section 3501(9) of title 19) enters into force with respect to the United States." 

I believe this sets a scary precedent for anyone who holds a trademark registration because it means that the rights you secured years ago can suddenly become nonexistent based on the politically correct whim of the Senate Majority Leader and patent board members. 

The sad part is that this decision does nothing to force the football team to change their name; it only makes it easier for more people to profit off of the name "Redskins." I guess in a way, the Patent and Trademark office is forcing the hand of the NFL to protect its brand and make the team change its name to regain control of their branding. I am sure that "P.C. Police" is in the job description of the Patent and Trademark Office employee's handbook.  

The most telling part of this event is that the trademark office can give you trademark rights but they can also take them away for political correctness. This makes them Indian Givers and I hope the Redskins win the appeal for this reason alone.

Tim Giordano

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