Michael Matthew Bloomer, June 19, 2014.
The sports world and the other parts of the world learned today that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Washington D.C. cancelled six of the Washington Redskins’ trademarks. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) determined that the trademarks “were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered, in violation of Section 2(a) of the Trademark Act of 1946, 15 U.S.C. Sec. 1052(a).” The trademark statutes prohibit “registration of marks that may disparage persons or bring them into contempt or disrepute.” Click here for the official TTAB opinion, a .pdf that may take a few moments to load in a new tab.)
The cover letter accompanying the opinion was not released to the public, and many organizations will file Freedom of Information Act petitions to get the letter released. I, however, came into a copy of the letter through reportorial chutzpah and outright theft. It makes interesting and revealing reading about how the TTAB ponders and crafts its major trademark cancellation decisions.
(The Board’s carefully crafted bifurcated deliberative process, by the way, has been status quo throughout the government since the Reagan Administration, particularly in the 21st Century U.S. House of Representatives.)