U.S. Patent and Trademark Office takes aim at “Redskins”

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The Washington Redskins presumably refuse to change their name in recognition of the potentially offensive nature of the term for business reasons.  Eventually, business reasons could give the team no choice but to change it.

Per the Washington Post, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected last month an application for trademark protection of the term “Redskins Hog Rinds.”  The letter rejecting the application identified five definitions of the term “Redskins,” four of which were deemed “offensive” and one “taboo.”

The letter mentions the ongoing opposition to the name of the NFL team in justifying the rejection of the application.

“The USPTO ruling sends a powerful message to Washington team owner Dan Snyder and the NFL that in the name of basic decency and respect they should immediately stop spending millions of dollars to promote the R-word,” Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter said in a press release.  “This is a huge potential precedent-setter rooted in the painfully self-evident truth that the Change the Mascot campaign has been reiterating:  The R-word is a dictionary-defined slur designed to demean and dehumanize an entire group of people.  The federal government was right to declare that taxpayers cannot and should not subsidize the promotion of that slur through lucrative patent protections.”

While the outcome of the “Redskins Hog Rinds” application has no direct relevance to the NFL team, an action currently is pending before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to revoke the trademark protection of the name.  If ultimately successful, the Redskins would have no ability to restrict other businesses from selling items containing the name “Redskins.”

In other words, the storm of permissible knock offs containing the name the team refuses to abandon would eat into the team’s merchandising sales and necessitate a change to a term that carries with it federal trademark protection.

58 responses to “U.S. Patent and Trademark Office takes aim at “Redskins”

  1. So much for First Amendment.

    What rules are we going to make up and follow today? Who needs a silly thing like the Constitution anyway .

  2. Gee, I wonder who in Washington has enough influence to make this kind of decision happen using a federal agency? Who would stoop to something this conniving?

  3. Check mate Mr. Snyder. Just like your team, you talked a big game but in the end got beaten by a bigger better opponent, in this case the US government.

  4. This is astonishing. Words can not describe how illegal this is. You send a letter claiming the term offensive meanwhile it is the name of their franchise/llc? I am disgusted that they have used their own personal opinion on this matter and returned it in words to this business owner. These people blatantly used their power to control a business’ sale tactics, put it in writing and mailed it to the business owner. THAT IS CORRUPTION at its clear finest, and these people should be stripped of their jobs. Absolutely disgusting.

  5. Ray Halbritter is a con man and a thief. His only true objection is he isn’t getting rich by screwing the Redskins like he’s done to his people. (Even though he isn’t actually an Oneida)

  6. How many people need to find something offensive before it is legally considered offensive? I’m Portuguese and my friends call me a Portagee which I don’t mind, but other Portuguese people might find it offensive.

    Where does is the line crossed from insensitive to illegality in its usage?

  7. I know alot of natives that are ok with the redskins. Dont know any who are not with it. I know a few being I live by a reservation north of seattle.

    If all these people really want to appease natives, why dont they do something worth a dang. Expand the size of their reservations or something.

    Going after a football teams name is small fish. Whats been done to natives is way more offensive than a simple name dipicting the orientation of their skin color. Just like always though, ‘Murica proves its lack of sense.

  8. This should end with Dan Snyder selling the franchise and new ownership re-branding it.

    Hate to see traditions dying but can’t argue that it is offensive.

  9. This is such overblown bs… Seriously, get a life man. It’s a damn football team. Oneida and pft’s efforts to do away with a football team’s name have become pathetic and desperate. Desperation is not a good look for anybody. Get over it! Find something else to be offended about. There are plenty of issues out there to focus your efforts on… HTTR!

  10. The word ‘desperation’ comes to mind when seeing Florio’s posts regarding this issue. Give up, buddy, it’s starting to get embarrassing for you.

  11. it’s amazing that Snyder is so block headed he doesn’t see this coming and do something about it.

  12. In Flagstaff, AZ at Snowbowl Ski Resort, the local Indians who owned the land refused for years to allow the resort to make artificial snow. Artificial snow is produced using reconstituted water, and the tribe didn’t want this unclean water poisoning their sacred mountain. Recently, they have decided to allow it…the reason? They struck a deal with the resort granting them an even larger portion of the profits. I think the key here is money. They got the attention they wanted and now we all know who the Oneida Nation is….give them a tiny piece of the pie, and I promise you they’ll live with the pain the R-words have caused them all these years.

  13. Remember “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”?

    How did that outlook change to “Your words are hurtful”?

    Society needs to toughen up, IMO.

  14. Let me see if I understand this….they are creating more competition to use the Redskins name to hurt Snyders revenue. he very word you are trying to say is offensive. I don’t think it’s going to,hurt his,revenues that much. Grasping at straws Indian nation.

  15. The USPTO ruling sends a powerful message to Washington team owner Dan Snyder and the NFL that the louder and more obnoxious you can get your tiny and pointless group to be, the more craven and cowardly politicians will capitulate to your preposterous demands at the expense of reason and common sense. Everybody wants a seat at the table; whiners get the most and deserve the least.

  16. Somehow I knew you wouldn’t post anything about RGIII winning the Ed Block Courage Award, as voted by his teammates. No, you have to keep pushing your agenda. Pathetic.

  17. thats Obama government for ya. its ok as long as liberals agree….. if liberals dont agree with you we will find a backdoor way to screw you over.

  18. If everyone else who wants to use the name will be rejected, won’t they have a de facto trademark?

  19. if the name Redskins is so offensive, why would there be a fear of other companies using that term to market a product

  20. This is getting more stupid by the day! Where the hell was the uproar about this before 2008? Nowhere! The fans don’t care, they don’t seem to be offended, this PC garbage has got to stop!

  21. The USPTO is incompetent at best, they would lose in court. Of course when the rule of law is ignored all things are possible with this gov’t

  22. If they force them to change their name then we need to also immediate stop giveing gambling rights to Indians.

    The only reason they have it is because in their contract it allows them rights to “gaming” on their land.

    Of course “gaming” back when the contract was written meant fishing and hunting NOT gambling.

    So either eliminate all of their gambling casinos or legalize it for everyone.

  23. Why don’t the just put a potato on their helmet. It fits what they’ve been the last 20 years

  24. The NFL splits merchandise dollars evenly. If somebody buys a Alfred Morris jersey the Cowboys, Jaguars, and Raiders get the same amount of money as the Redskins. So be careful what you wish for because this would impact every team equally if the trademark was revoked.
    It might get a little more fuzzy with local TV and radio stations proclaiming that they are the “official station”. However, the Redskins can still pick and choose who gets first access to press conferences, and interviews and charge a premium for the privilege just like they do now.

  25. They should change the name to the Don’t Trust Whitey Crackers no one would would be allowed to object to that as long as we keep on working two or three jobs so the rest of the country can skate.

  26. Obviously nobody knows how this is offensive. So yeah let’s keep the name and while we are at it let’s change a few. Oakland could be the ni##ers Dallas could be the spics and how about Miami could be the border jumpers and New York could be the yamakas. Denver could be the Podunk. Just some ideas we could do to continue the level of ignorance in this country. Just a little advice before you oppose something educate yourself about it before demonstrating just how ignorant you are.

  27. Diddy was able to copyright his album Ns in Paris; Chuck Connors’ lines in Roots are copyrighted intellectual property. Sure, it’s not quite the same, as We were behind both of those productions, but I think the point is pretty clear. Whatever your feelings on the actual issue, it’s not up to the patent office to interpret the constitutional freedom of speech, or be an activist force for social change, it’s up to them to put stamps on forms.

  28. We’ll mr third if what you say is true then explain to me why mr Johnny cash album broken treaties was banned from the patent office and was never allowed to be sold in any format beside underground. It’s funny how ppl pick and choose when they can pull the freedom of speech card don’t you think?

  29. FSU fans/band/team were doing an Indian war chant all thru the BCS Championship game. They had a student (face painted) and dressed up as an Indian on a horse throw a flaming spear into the turf in the pre-game. Their “spirit team” dresses up like Indians, complete with feathers in their hair. FSU makes million$ selling Seminole merchandise.

    Washington Redskins…. oh the horror.

  30. First the Bullets and now the Redskins .. sheesh must be rough down there. Atleast it makes some sense to change the Redskins but the Bullets … really??

  31. My IP professor explained to me that even if the washington football team lost their trademark rights under the Lanham act it would not prevent them from using the name “redskins” it would just limit their protection under the act. the team would still have common law rights to the name.

  32. laughingattheignoranceofyouall says: Jan 8, 2014 12:20 PM

    We’ll mr third if what you say is true then explain to me why mr Johnny cash album broken treaties was banned from the patent office and was never allowed to be sold in any format beside underground. It’s funny how ppl pick and choose when they can pull the freedom of speech card don’t you think?
    I don’t know about this album or the story behind it, in fact a google search couldn’t even give me an explanation, but I do know that the Supreme Court has repeatedly held up the first amendment and the idea of protected speech even in some of the most extreme cases. Either way, I don’t know what exactly you’re arguing about, as it seems like we both disapprove of an activist patent office selectively pulling the “freedom of speech card”

  33. I smell a rat there. The Skins’ fans have long been known as the “Hogs”, and that quartet of guys in drag with the pig snouts has even been featured on magazine covers. Now, someone wants to obtain a trademark for “Hog Rinds”. Sounds to me as though an attorney for some tribal community, knew which buttons to push, to get another branch of the biased Federal Government involved, against the D.C. NFL team.

  34. Please stop with the “freedom of speech” argument. Re-read the 1st Amendment. Now read it again. It begins “Congress shall make no law…”

    We’re not talking about putting Snyder in jail, or people who use the term “Redskins” in jail. They have the freedom to use “Redskins”, to say “Redskins” and to put “Redskins” on a t-shirt. But, people also have the “freedom” to be offended by it and express their displeasure – i.e. the other side of the same freedom of speech.

    You can say what you want – just be prepared to be called an a#@*(le for it.

    This is NOT a freedom of speech issue.

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