On Monday, however, the twelfth one, “Washington Redskins Potatoes” was not given protection because it contained the derogatory and dictionary defined slur “Redskins.”
In its decision, the agency said, “Registration is refused because the applied-for mark includes matter which may disparage or bring into contempt or disrepute persons, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols. Given that ‘REDSKIN’ in the mark is a derogatory slang term that refers to, and is considered offensive by, American Indians, registration of the applied-for mark must be refused.”
In January, ICTMN reported that the agency rejected an application for “Redskins Hog Rinds,” and listed five separate definitions to explain how offensive the word is.
“Registration is refused because the applied-for mark includes matter which may disparage or bring into contempt or disrepute persons, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols,” the agency stated in its decision. “Given that ‘REDSKIN’ in the mark is a derogatory slang term that refers to, and is considered offensive by, American Indians, registration of the applied-for mark must be refused.”
In January, the agency rejected a similar trademark application for “Redskins Hog Rinds,” listing five separate dictionary definitions showing the offensive meaning of the R-word and citing growing opposition to the name including the Change the Mascot campaign.
“Once again, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office is making clear what should be obvious to everyone with a conscience--that “Redskins” is not a term which anyone with common decency would use to address a Native American. Despite the team’s claim that the mascot is a term of honor, the reality is that it is a dictionary-defined slur that insults and denigrates Native Americans. The R-word has no place in modern society,” said Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter. “It is heartening to see this latest step in the right direction, and we hope that the Washington NFL team will heed the clear calls for change and place itself on the right side of history by changing the team’s disparaging name.”
Dueling opinions on what this ruling means:
A Setback for Redskin Potatoes Won’t Hurt The Washington Redskins
By Maya Rhodan
“If they lost federal registration that would hurt their branding,” said Patricia Rehfield, a Maryland-based copyright attorney.
Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie said in a statement that “no matter what the ruling is this year, we expect no change that will impact the Redskins.”
“Even a negative ruling will have no effect at all on the team’s use of the Redskins name and logo,” he said. “That’s how the process works given our right to appeal.”
By Brad Gagnon
ESPN and ABC News sports business correspondent Darren Rovell told Keith Olbermann last year that changing names would be a wash in terms of profits/losses, while Olbermann himself believes Snyder would actually make money doing so.
Regardless, if trademark protection is lost and everyone else on the planet gains the right to manufacture and sell products that contain the team's name and logo without owing the league a dime, Snyder's hand will be forced.
And that'll be a good thing, because based on polls as well as the multitude of lawsuits launched in this regard from dozens of Native organizations, it's safe to conclude that thousands of Americans are personally offended by the name.
Meanwhile, criticism of the Washington team keeps coming:
Time to Stop Playing Cowboys and Indians
By DaShanne Stokes
The real world is a very different place than the Red*kins would have us believe. A recent (2011) study by Chaney, Burke, and Burkley, for example, shows that many people, in fact, do not distinguish between their feelings between stereotypical Native mascots and actual, living, breathing, Native American people. Such mascots engender a racially hostile environment.
Like many Native Americans, my experience supports these studies. When I worked for the Boy Scouts of America, for example, other scouts, knowing that I was Native American, would sometimes put their hands to their mouths and chant “woo woo woo” upon seeing me at the summer camp where I taught. And every weekend, just before our Native American dance team would put on an exhibition as a treat for campers in an effort to promote cross-cultural awareness and understanding, campers would often greet us with tomahawk chops used at sports games--laughing and pointing at us while they chanted.
What the Red*kins seem not to realize is that ethnic mascots are integrally intertwined with their offensive team names and together they have the effect of perpetuating institutionalized racism. Institutionalized racism contributes to high rates of unemployment, poverty, health problems, and inadequate education for many Native Americans. In short, Native team names and mascots contribute to the very problems on which the Red*kins say we should be focused on solving.
By Edward Schumacher-Matos
Those are just the factual questions. There is a moral one, ethics and morality not being the same thing. Is there a deeper moral issue of right and wrong at stake here, no matter what polls or studies show? If so, at what point does a news medium, especially a publicly supported one, have a responsibility to take a moral position? Or is its higher moral responsibility the professionally ethical one of being journalistically neutral?
Each of us will answer and weigh the questions in our own way, but my own conclusion based on the investigation that follows is that NPR should begin to purposefully disassociate itself from using the Redskins or the Washington Redskins on air and online.