Redskins Debate Taken to the United Nations

The Oneida Indian nation leader met last Friday with the Assistant Secretary – General for Human Rights of the United Nations to argue that the team name “Washington Redskins” is racially insensitive.  This meeting followed a series of radio advertisements criticizing the name.  This campaign to change the politically incorrect name has been ongoing since 1992 – over two decades.

The Redskins owner refuses to change the name, believing it is a “badge of honor.”  However, the USPTO is currently deciding on whether to cancel the mark.

As I previously discussed, I think public opinion should be the force that causes the team to change its name, not the USPTO in this case, because the mark was legitimately obtained and protected.  I guess you could say it should be “grandfathered” despite the change in cultural sensitivity over the years.  The Oneida Indian Nation’s public campaign is bringing the issue into the spotlight, generating a national discussion.  In my opinion, this is the proper forum in this situation.

I also think the USPTO properly rejected a trademark application for “Redskin’s Hog Rinds.”  This is a new mark and the term Redskins is now considered disparaging.  The USPTO should deny registration on this basis  This differs from the situation where a longstanding and widely recognized mark legally registered is at issue like the NFL team name and logo.

Even without federal registration, the brand owner can continue to use these politically incorrect names; they just won’t enjoy the enhanced protections of a registered mark status.

What do you think?