Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Patent Offices Rules Washington's Football Team's Name "Disparaging"

The United States Patent Office has issued a rule on the trademark for Washington's football team, which also happens to include the nickname of the team, a name that has provoked considerable debate recently (as well as one damned good piece of advertising during the NBA finals). The ruling is that the team's nickname is "disparaging of Native Americans." The matter has thus been resolved through the legal channels.

The bad news is that this has been a textbook example of just how slowly things flow through those channels. Here is a summary of that flow from the ESPN report of the ruling:
The ruling announced Wednesday comes after a campaign to change the name has gained momentum over the past year.
The decision by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board is similar to one it issued in 1999. That ruling was overturned in 2003 in large part on a technicality because the courts decided that the plaintiffs were too old.
The new case was launched in 2006 by a younger group of Native Americans. A hearing was held in March 2013.
Just like last time, the Redskins can retain their trademark protection during an appeal.
In other words the flow has not yet come to a halt. Still, progress is progress, even when it dribbles out at the pace of "government work." Still, I hope that readers will note that, unlike ESPN, I managed to refrain from using the offensive word in my own text, figuring that, by now, everyone knows the nickname of the football team.

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