PTO Rules “Redskins” Trademark Is Derogatory

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When used in connection with the sale of pork rinds. Why, is that term used in some other very public way in association with a good or service of which you were thinking?

Surely not.

The Washington Post reports that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has rejected an application for the trademark "Redskins Hog Rinds" on the grounds that the term "Redskins" is a word that "may disparage or bring [persons] into contempt or disrepute," which disqualifies it from registration. It might be different if "Redskin" is a term of art in the pork rinds industry, the examiner said, saying the applicant could offer evidence on that point as part of an appeal. But otherwise, given the association of that term with Native Americans, and specifically the skin color of Native Americans, no deal.

This does not necessarily predict the outcome of the pending case seeking to revoke the Washington Redskins' trademark registration, because as the Post points out there have been four previous rejections of attempts to register "Redskins" in connection with various things, and none of those have affected the team's use of the term. A previous case targeting the football trademark was dismissed, but another one is pending.

According to ESPN, things did not seem to go too well for the Redskins at a hearing in that case in March:

The Redskins maintain the name honors Native Americans [!] and that they don't mean to offend anybody, but two of the judges questioned that line of thinking. [Judge Peter] Cataldo [asked] if the team could have called itself the "Washington N-word" with nothing but honorable intentions [and escaped scrutiny].

I haven't seen the transcript, so I'm not sure what the response was (or is) to that one.

Personally I think the team ought to change its name, but I'm not sufficiently fanatical about it that I refused to have any Redskins players on my fantasy football team. Although as it turns out, that would have been a good idea for other reasons.