In The End, The U.S. Patent Office, Not Public Demand, May Force Washington D.C.’s NFL Team To Change Its Nickname
January 8 / Rick Chandler / SportsGrid
They finally got Al Capone on tax evasion, right? And so Daniel Snyder may be somewhat similarly forced to justice: made to give up his racist, controversial team nickname due to the power of the pencil rather than the sword.
The agency that may finally put the hammer down on the Washington D.C. NFL team's moniker? Give it up for ... The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office!
It seems that a snack food company applied for a trademark request recently that had the name "Redskins" in the title, and the Patent Office slapped it down. Not because it infringed on the NFL team's name ... oh no. But because the Patent Office deemed the name offensive. New York Daily News:
The news came after the agency deemed the term "derogatory slang" in a Dec. 29 letter rejecting the trademark request for "Redskins Hog Rinds," writing "Registration is refused because the applied-for mark REDSKINS HOG RINDS consists of or includes matter which may disparage or bring into contempt or disrepute persons, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols." The product is not affiliated with the football team.
Oh hog rinds, is there anything you can't do?
The Patent Office further said that it is considering revoking the team's trademark protection on the name 'Redskins', using the same criteria. What does that mean? Well, anyone could then use it: and as soon as Redskins Condoms, Redskins Brand Tampons and Redskins Suppositories hit the market, Snyder is gonna beg the NFL to let him change the name.
A pro sports franchise with no trademark name protection is like a battleship adrift with no power: it's target practice for everyone who comes by, all day, every day.
It's ironic, really. As you know, the Washington Redskins were the last NFL franchise to play an African-American player ... Bobby Mitchell, in 1962. Then-owner George Preston Marshall, who once said that the NAACP stood for "Never At Any time Colored Players", only gave in because of another government technicality. On orders from the Kennedy administration, Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall ordered Marshall to hire black players or be kicked out of his stadium, which was on federal land. It was the only time that the government forced a pro sports franchise to integrate.
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