Native Americans Activists Lose Annulment Procedure Against Redskins Trademark

The Washington Redskins is an American Football team with a surrounding industry of souvenirs etc. that is valued at more than $1 billion. Native American Indians consider the team’s trademarks as disparaging. On Friday, the US Court of Appeals (D.C. – where else?) affirmed the district courts finding that the plaintiffs had waited too long to challenge the trademarks.

The oldest of the trademarks was registered in 1967, and the Native American plaintiffs waited until 1992 beofre challenging it.  One of the Native American plaintiffs,Mateo Romero was only a year old in 1967, when the first Redskins trademark was registered, and turned 18 in 1984. The appellate court asked Judge Kollar-Kotelly to analyze the issue of delay since 1984, not 1967.

I find the case interesting. I think that Native American Indians may well find the mark offensive, and this could be a valid reason for opposition. Once established, should this or any other mark be forever under scrutiny?

Perhaps from trademark perspective it shouldn’t be, but usage could perhaps be challenged by anyone finding the mark offensive. The trouble is, communists could perhaps find redskins or red sox offensive, as could those with athlete’s foot. I realize that these comments trivialize a historic wrong performed by white man on Native Americans, but I am not sure that forcing a sports team to change it’s name and logo is neccessarily the answer.

The New Zealand All Black’s Maori Hucka war-dance is the only parallel that springs to mind at present. There are Israel sports teams called haPoalim, literally “the Workers”. Possibly, those Israelis still employed may find the name offensive…

Categories: famous marks, News, Opinion, trademarks

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