January 09, 2014

"Redskins Hog Rinds" trademark rejected

Agency rejects trademark of ‘Redskins Hog Rinds,’ calling term ‘derogatory’

By Theresa VargasThe same federal agency that will determine whether Washington’s professional football team gets to keep its trademark registration recently struck down a request for a company to sell pork rinds with the name “Redskins.”

An application to register the trademark “Redskins Hog Rinds” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office was refused by an examining attorney on the basis that it contained “a derogatory slang term,” according to a letter from the agency.

“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,” reads the letter, dated Dec. 29.

It goes on to list five definitions for the word “Redskin,” four of which describe it as an “offensive” term for Native Americans. The fifth definition uses the word “taboo.” The letter also cites several news articles as evidence that Indians find the word offensive, along with the fact that “the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) now uses the designations ‘R*dskins’ and ‘R Word’ when referring to ‘REDSKINS’ sports teams mascots.”
Patent Office: Your 'Redskins' Pork Rinds Are Racist, Trademark DeniedWhat should be made clear is that the U.S. government has declined to protect the product name Redskins Hog Rinds; the company that makes the product is not forbidden to use the name. There is much confusion in the comments on the WaPo article, with posters bemoaning political correctness and an encroachment on free speech. One of the readers explains the difference between censorship and this ruling: "You have the right to say anything you want if you're not attempting to incite violence, but the federal government doesn't have to grant you exclusive rights to profit from your bigotry."

It's not clear what effect, if any, the pork-rind decision will have on the football-team decision. The suit against the Washington Redskins isn't a simple racist-or-not decision on a word. But as an indicator of how the Patent and Trademark Office feels about the term "redskin," the ruling against Redskins Hog Rinds is a welcome one to efforts like Change the Mascot, a campaign against the name being spearheaded by Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter.

"The USPTO ruling sends a powerful message to Washington team owner Dan Snyder and the NFL that in the name of basic decency and respect they should immediately stop spending millions of dollars to promote the R-word," said Halbritter. "This is a huge potential precedent-setter rooted in the painfully self-evident truth that the Change the Mascot campaign has been reiterating: The R-word is a dictionary defined slur designed to demean and dehumanize an entire group of people. The federal government was right to declare that taxpayers cannot and should not subsidize the promotion of that slur through lucrative patent protections."
PTO Examiner Refuses to Register 'Redskins' Trademark (No, Not That One)Based on other PTO and TTAB actions involving the "Redskin" term, it seems likely that the TTAB will find the Washington Redskins' mark disparaging and cancel its registration.Meanwhile, another Redskins team finally changed its name:

Redskins name scrapped by Ottawa minor football club

Team changes name to Nepean Eagles for 2014 season after public outrageThe Nepean Redskins youth football team in Ottawa has officially changed its name to the Nepean Eagles after public outrage.

The organization has already changed its website in anticipation of its 36th season in 2014 and a statement on its website says there will be new jerseys and helmets, and a new scoreboard for this upcoming season.
And:Campeau, a member of electronic group A Tribe Called Red and father of two, has said he'd been trying to get the team to change its identity for several years.​

"It's about the entitlement of being able to label an oppressed people, to call somebody they have no ties to... that word,” Campeau said in the fall.
Comment:  No word yet on whether any Nepean fans have died or the team has plunged into a death-spiral of doom and destruction. Because that's what happens when a team is forced to change its racist name or logo, right?

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