November 15, 2009

Supreme Court upholds Redskins trademark

Supreme Court Denies Redskins Mascot Challenge

By Kristina PetersonThe Washington Redskins ended their four-game losing streak Sunday. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court handed the professional football team another victory, declining to hear a petition alleging its use of the "Redskins" mascot is racially disparaging.

Suzan Harjo v. Pro-Football Inc., a case that began in 1992, centered on whether a dispute over a potentially offensive trademark can be dismissed if the challenge was not filed promptly. Though the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled in 1999 that the name was disparaging and should be changed, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. later decided that the challengers had waited too long to file their petition. The Redskins first registered the mascot with the Patent and Trademark Office in 1967.
Comment:  To recap, the plaintiffs won their case in 1999 when a panel of judges ruled against the Redskins. An appeals court threw out that decision based on a technicality. Now the Supreme Court has tacitly upheld that technicality by declining to review the case.

To reiterate, the plaintiffs won on the merits of the case, while the Redskins "won" on a fluke. Therefore, the protests will continue because Redskins foes have the evidence on their side. "Redskins" is a racial slur of long standing.

Incidentally, it's funny that conservatives complain about criminals getting off on technicalities. I bet judges rule for prosecutors and conservative plaintiffs and against defendants and liberal plaintiffs on technical issues all the time. How many court-bashing pundits will protest this technicality, I wonder?

For more on the subject, see The Washington Deadskins and Legal Briefs Filed Against Redskins.

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