This post was republished to The Heretic at 9:11:46 AM 6/20/2014
USSC over-ruled by the US Patent and Trademark Office?
I have been following the debate about the Washington Redskins name issue for some little while. Most don’t seem to be aware that this is actually the second ‘assault’ on their identity as a football team. I will be among the first to admit that I am not an avid fan of the game. My father, however, was a huge fan. He had two teams; the Pittsburg Steelers as that was his ‘hometown’ team, and the Washington Redskins because they were ‘his’ Native American team. It seems that way back in the 1930s the Boston Redskins were formed with a core of Native American players, these players came up with the name and the logo. Other than the move west to Washington which changed the location portion of their name they have been associated with this particular identity ever since. My father happens to be the last ‘legally defined’ Native American in our family with Blackfoot tribal roots. He married an Englishwoman while stationed in the UK and thus I don’t have sufficient Native American in my blood to make the legal claim of native…perhaps that should be the subject of a future entry.
Up until 1967 the name and logos were treated rather casually but marketing became involved and suddenly the name and logo became commodities. The team formally applied for and received trademark protection. A trademark differs in several substantial ways from copyrights and patents. The most significant being that a trademark is issued in perpetuity (meaning forever); as an aside consider that a red triangle is the registered trademark for Bass Pale Ale, issued in 1876 and considered the world’s oldest!
In 1992 a small group of Native Americans attempted to have the name forcibly changed and filed a lawsuit in federal court. The Washington Redskins had been operating under that name and logo at this point for 25 years! There is no record of any Native American objection to the name prior to this suit filed in 1992. No public hue and cry, no demonstrations, no opinionated President, who was more likely to be seen AT the game rather than protesting the name. Indeed the Washington Redskins were considered “America’s Team”. The federal court invoked the “Doctrine of Laches” which basically states that too long had passed prior to a complaint being made. It was pointed out that any injunction would result in significant financial damage to the team. The plaintiffs filed an appeal and the case went before the Supreme Court of the United States. The highest court in the land upheld the lower courts findings in 1999 and the injunction against the name and logo was refused.
Fast forward 16 years and we now have the US Patent and Trademark Office, apparently at the behest of the Executive Branch quietly and without fanfare abrogating the Supreme Court! We still have 90% of the Native Americans in the US supporting the Washington Redskins name and trademark while a tiny percentage of Native Americans being maneuvered and controlled by a liberal PC do-gooder that considers herself a Native American because she saw one in a movie sometime in the past. So much for democracy, so much for rule of law, so much for separation of powers. These individuals have held themselves above the Constitution of the United States under the banner of “We are doing it for your own good, you are too stupid to self-govern.”
Understand this first off, the trademark review process for offensive trademarks requires that the investigation be based on the norms of the time that the application for a trademark was made. In simple terms that means the term and image used MUST have been considered offensive AT THE TIME OF FILING. In 1967 the term and image was not considered so. For this reason you can examine the TESS Database at http://tmsearch.uspto.gov/ and find registered trademarks to entities using the word Redneck, Negro, Bastard and even Bitch. Use of these words in public today could have you in a fight quicker than you could whistle Dixie! Yet there are businesses today using these terms in the trademarks of their organizations.
A little while ago we had a nice company that made a great cup of coffee named Beaner’s. They changed their name without all this drama. Despite the fact that coffee is made with beans and this was a coffee shop so the intent was perfectly clear there was enough comment from the public that the business owner changed the name and logo on his own. This is how it works in a democracy. The people vote; maybe with their words, a demonstration, a vote or with-holding of fiscal support. If the business feels the pinch they change. Trademarks are STRICTLY business. This system of control for what is considered acceptable and marketable in the public mind has worked for years. The volume of dead trademarks in the database with names that contained Nigger and Sambo show that the system works. The company changes its image or goes out of business. We do not need and do not want holier than though self-proclaimed prophets of righteous anger at non-PC activity and action deciding these things for us. Most of us are adults and will come to our own conclusions anyway. The majority usually find the right path when they are not manipulated by a propaganda tool of the US Government. Freedom of Speech is a guaranteed right, we have the right to say things that are stupid, dumb and mean-spirited. We must be adults about this and understand that we are responsible for our speech and its effect on others. We do not need, or require the Federal Government to take that role from the people.