The politically correct brigade has gotten the USPTO to remove trademark protection from the Washington Redskins for the second time:
The United States Patent and Trademark Office has canceled six federal trademark registrations for the name of the Washington Redskins, ruling that the name is “disparaging to Native Americans” and thus cannot be trademarked under federal law that prohibits the protection of offensive or disparaging language.
The U.S. PTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board issued a ruling in the case, brought against the team by plaintiff Amanda Blackhorse, Wednesday morning.
“We decide, based on the evidence properly before us, that these registrations must be cancelled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered,” the board wrote in its opinion, which is here. A brief explanation of how the Board reached its decision is here.
Setting aside the possibility that this decision will, like the 1992 case, be overturned, it is apparent that the anti-Redskins activists, most of whom appear to be in the media, are counting on Daniel Snyder to behave like the greedy monopolist of their fantasies.
The thing is, the value of Redskins-branded merchandise is relatively trivial compared to the overall value of the teams. Teams only make about $5 million per year from their merchandising and there is already a considerable amount of knockoffs available. For example, I once saw a guy lifting at a gym in Italy wearing a Minnesota Vikings shirt. The only sign that it was a knockoff was that the Vikings running back featured on the shirt was #33, and I knew the Vikes have never had a notable running back with that number.
But there is a very real potential benefit to Snyder and the Redskins in the loss of the trademark, because an increase in the production and distribution of Redskins merchandise could lead to the Redskins truly becoming America’s Team in a way that the Dallas Cowboys are not. And with or without the Redskins trademark, Redskins gear can’t be sold as Official NFL gear by anyone anyhow. But whether the PTO board’s decision stands or not, I think the loss of the trademark is very unlikely to create any significant pressure on Snyder to change the team name, despite the media’s bizarre portrayal of the decision as “a landmark”.