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NFL has no comment on trademark ruling

NFL Getty Images

The Washington NFL team has said plenty about the ruling stripping its team of trademark protection.  The NFL has said nothing.

And the NFL apparently will be saying nothing.

“The Redskins issued a statement from their attorney,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said via email.

Yes, they did. But only a couple weeks after NFL V.P. of labor policy and government affairs Adolpho Birch declared that the team name is not a slur, the appropriate arm of the federal government has found that it is.  Some would say that something more than silence would be the reasonable response.

Then again, what can the NFL do?  Launch a game of ‘fraid-not/’fraid-so?  A no-gray-area debate has emerged in recent months regarding the name.  Even though today’s ruling fuels the side pushing against it, it won’t change the minds of those who support it.

Still, the predictable content of the statement from the team’s lawyer predicting eventual victory in a court of law overlooks the possibility that, before the appeal is resolve, the battle may be long since lost in the court of public opinion. Despite the identical nature of today’s outcome to the ultimately-reversed decision from 1999, those opposing the name have gained a viable piece of ammunition for the ongoing effort to make the movement become larger, more organized, and more effective.

If sponsors decide to get involved, it may even provide the proverbial tipping point, sparking the chain of events that would result in the NFL finding a way to persuade owner Daniel Snyder to tippy-toe out of the corner into which his past statements have painted him.

If, after all, Clippers owner Donald Sterling should lose his franchise over racist views shared in private, shouldn’t some sort of action be taken now that a federal agency with jurisdiction has determined that a term used in a very public way creates disparagement on racial grounds?

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33 Responses to “NFL has no comment on trademark ruling”
  1. thepftpoet says: Jun 18, 2014 1:30 PM

    But since the NFL said “no comment” therefore it was a comment and that this statement is false.

    As a lawyer, this is what negotiating sounds like with DA’s.

  2. rdrfan says: Jun 18, 2014 1:36 PM

    We are losing more control of what we are all about everyday as Americans.

  3. thestrategyexpert says: Jun 18, 2014 1:36 PM

    The NFL is playing the “we aren’t saying anything because whatever we could possibly say would be certainly used against us one way or another” card.

    Therefore they have no idea what to think until they can gather more clues from which to form a reasonable guess as to what they think.

  4. i thumbs down your comment says: Jun 18, 2014 1:41 PM

    This is getting beyond ridiculous. For starters, the USPTO is not the “appropriate arm of the Federal Government” that would define whether the term “redskins” is a racial slur. That would be up to the nine justices on the Supreme Court to decide.
    Further, this is semantics. The modern meaning of the word has changed. 99% of people polled would identify that word with the name of an NFL football team never pausing for a moment to think that it has/had any racial undertones.

  5. qdeathstar says: Jun 18, 2014 1:41 PM

    It’s the Redskins, get over yourself.

  6. craigkintexas says: Jun 18, 2014 1:43 PM

    If pressure is put on by sponsors to not support the Redskins, we should boycott those sponsors.

  7. 12444uggg says: Jun 18, 2014 1:45 PM

    I’m more interested in the common themes in those who support the .gov forcing Snyders hand in this manner.

  8. joeflaccoallday says: Jun 18, 2014 1:48 PM

    Roger Godell is a tool for letting this stand pact. Who cares about 70 years ago? We’re in the present day and this is really becoming an issue.

  9. veence69 says: Jun 18, 2014 1:59 PM

    “Government for the People, by the People”

    The People have let their voices be heard on this. It’s time to change the name. This childish tantrum because you refuse to grow up is embarrassing. For you.

  10. catquick says: Jun 18, 2014 1:59 PM

    The name is none of the governments business

  11. akboot says: Jun 18, 2014 2:11 PM

    Cowboys beware, if we cant have redskins, then it seems only fair, we cannot tolerate cowboys.

  12. trev1738 says: Jun 18, 2014 2:17 PM

    The team has recognized that it continues to own and is able to protect its marks without the registrations in place. The organization is correct. Importantly, a lack of a federal registration in place does not equate to anarchy where any individual can create merchandise bearing “Redskins” marks and sell same in commerce. a person may be in violation of improperly benefiting from the use of the team’s common law protected trademark and be forced to pay damages related to the infringing use. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office makes the distinction between a federal registration in a trademark and common law rights quite clear. It says on its FAQ page, “Federal registration is not required to establish rights in a trademark. Common law rights arise from actual use of a mark…”

  13. abninf says: Jun 18, 2014 2:19 PM

    Let me know what happens after that appeal. In about 10 years.

  14. footballhistorian says: Jun 18, 2014 2:21 PM

    In response to the last paragraph – the answer is NO!!! Sterlings statements and the name of the Washington REDSKINS are NOT analogous. As a highly trained and educated lawyer YOU of all people should know this. In these times, all it takes is a bunch of self-aggrandizing weaklings to marry their group-think into a fit of “public outrage” and we have some “civil right” being violated. There IS NO RIGHT TO NOT BE OFFENDED!!! Being “offended” and actually being libeled or assaulted are completely different things. Having the government use “being offended” as a tool to punish the “offender” ends up turning society into a mob of victims just waiting to be aggrieved. And then good-by free speech.

  15. Aaron Rodgers Has Tiny Hands says: Jun 18, 2014 2:21 PM

    I had to click on tippy toe just to see if it was the Seinfeld scene.

  16. aceakking says: Jun 18, 2014 2:36 PM

    R*dsk*n is a slur. Change it!

  17. tomtravis76 says: Jun 18, 2014 2:47 PM

    Don’t they say their colors are burgundy and gold? Why call yourselves the redskins, it’s obviously implying a reference to a people not just a color.

    Many cities have had teams leave their city being replaced by a new one. Fans cheer on the team while still remembering the past teams. Aren’t you really cheering
    the team on the field, regardless of the name?

  18. cyberbucs says: Jun 18, 2014 2:47 PM

    Just change the name to “Skins” and helmet logo to a W. End of debate.

  19. aceakking says: Jun 18, 2014 2:51 PM

    A black man Adolpho Birch saying R*dsk*n isn’t a slur is really ironic and sad.

  20. ldillon46 says: Jun 18, 2014 2:56 PM

    What the hell has happened to freedom of speech in this great country of ours? It is just a name, there is nothing racial or derogatory about it. And for the nba owner, how in the hell can you take away his team for something he said in private? And last I heard the freedom of speech thing is still in the constitution. Get a grip, all of you. This is America, not N Korea, China or any other dictatorship…

  21. irishdodger says: Jun 18, 2014 2:57 PM

    I always thought the Redskins name was a type of potato & the logo was to honor brave Indian warriors.

  22. jpaq68 says: Jun 18, 2014 3:00 PM

    If, after all, Clippers owner Donald Sterling should lose his franchise over racist views shared in private, shouldn’t some sort of action be taken now that a federal agency with jurisdiction has determined that a term used in a very public way creates disparagement on racial grounds?

    No.

  23. clashpoint says: Jun 18, 2014 3:29 PM

    Translation:

    “No matter what we’d say, we’d catch a million tons of crap, so we ain’t gonna say a damn thing.”

  24. cyberbucs says: Jun 18, 2014 3:31 PM

    Im for keeping the name, but if it starts hurting the teams finances, its gonna change. I think everyone is beyond over this debate.

  25. jimbobscooter says: Jun 18, 2014 3:50 PM

    Everyone saying this isn’t a government issue is dead wrong.

    No one should be subjected to humiliation or degrading treatment according to Article 5 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights–the basis of international law, a treaty we signed in 1948.

    We’re required, by our constitution (Article 6), to uphold treaties we signed.

    That’s why the US government CANNOT offer copyright protection. (No one is trying to throw people in jail here.)

    Down vote away, but it’s the truth, like it or not.

  26. marcsherm says: Jun 18, 2014 3:53 PM

    “Appropriate arm of the federal government”? Some unelected bureaucrat? What makes them the expert who can make this decision? Their ability to fill out a federal employment form? Using subjective political correctness to decide what should be given government protection seems to fly in the face of the equal protection guarantees in the Constitution. It’s the same thing as the First Amendment protecting unpopular speech. It should not be up to the government to decide what is or isn’t “disparaging”.

  27. einherjer00 says: Jun 18, 2014 4:04 PM

    So the Trademark office are to be considered the arbiters of what terms are offensive, with no one even having recourse to challenge them?

    This affair just proves that much more that media oligarchs control the government, even in departments where people don’t need to win elections.

  28. rupp246 says: Jun 18, 2014 4:10 PM

    Put an R on the helmet, change the name to “edskins” and everyone will still call them the redskins.

  29. broncosaddict says: Jun 18, 2014 4:56 PM

    The “corner” he’s in also contains the vast majority of people……I think its fair to say he’s not in a corner at all…

  30. nite2al says: Jun 18, 2014 7:39 PM

    The fact that most people on this board would choose to keep a degrading sport’s team name over the wishes of a real group of people is quite depressing.

  31. kidfootball says: Jun 18, 2014 9:58 PM

    Tribes should ban together and get the reeboks of the world to make ridiculously cheap gear that will appeal to the ignorant fan who doesn’t want to change the name and use the free market to make change.

  32. mikejune says: Jun 19, 2014 2:20 AM

    And for those of you that say that the name is not the governments business, you are exactly right. In fact, that is exactly what happened with this ruing. This was the government saying “you can call the team whatever you want, its none of our business, but we will not protect you for using it.”

  33. papajack1259 says: Jun 19, 2014 8:00 AM

    The NFL is a cash Cow once the Advertisers pull the ads then and only then will the Proud American Sport of Football do something
    The NBA throws their owner out for a remark made on a couch in his living room while he is half in the wrap…The NFL has no comment, No Balls , come on you have to see where this would smack you on the side of the head if you were a Native American…….They perhaps should use Andrew Jackson’s face as the logo
    I had to laugh when Snyder talked about 80 years of tradition……think about it ….The AmericanIndian has held on to tradition for hundreds of years Snyder loses the tradition argument just on fact
    If the other owners had balls they would refuse to play scheduled games against the Hogs….the longer this goes on the worst it will get for the NFL it may notend soon but it is not going away….

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