Wednesday, June 18, 2014

US Patent Office Goes Off the Wall Politically Correct

By Robert Wenzel

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has canceled six federal trademark registrations for the name "Washington Redskins" today on the grounds that the football team’s name is “disparaging to Native Americans” and thus in violation of federal trademark laws banning offensive or disparaging language.

I grew up in Massachusetts and, in my part of town, we did not call someone a "yankee" and mean it in a kind way. A George Bush-type elitist wasp was a yankee to us. They didn't like us and we didn't like them. Think Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting in the scene where he stands up to the elitist Harvard student:

Will the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office cancel the federal trademark registrations of the "New York Yankees"?

In different contexts, words mean different things. To someone in the south, everyone in the north is a yankee, including me. I had a long-time Texas banker as a client and he let me know it. To a Jap, all Americans, including those who live in the south are yankees.

The use of the word yankee in "New York Yankees" has lost all sinister connotation.

 It is absurd to think the Washington Redskins use the term redskins in a disparaging manner. Indeed, as far as I can see,  it has lost all connotation with Indians, when used by the football team. But suppose it didn't, so what? Is the  U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, now the U.S. Patent and Trademark and Politically Correct Thought Office, are they going to pull, says, the copyrights on every novel they find offensive from a politically correct perspective?

It is important to protect intellectual creations. They are perhaps mans greatest creations. That said, the government should be out of the business and their absurd move with regard to the pulling of the Washington Redskin trademarks is one good reason. There are others. The great economist Murray Rothbard was in favor of intellectual property protection but made an important distinction, in Man. Economy and State, between the current legal structure for patents and that of copyrights (pp. 745-754). Rothbard argued that independent discovery should be the criteria for designation of intellectual property rights, not first to file or first to create. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is closer to this when it comes to copyrights than it is patents. Indeed, Rothbard wrote (p. 747)
The copyright is...a logical device of property right on the free market.
But the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office does not apply this consistently, especially when it comes to patents and trademarks, and now they have added politically correct BS to the mix. It is time to end the  U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and put intellectual property right protection in the hands of the free market, the way Rothbard envisioned it.

 Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of and author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank.


  1. I am soooooo tired of the USSA. I miss America.

  2. But the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office does not apply this consistently

    So much for I.P. being a "true" right. A right that is granted by and exists sorely because of the State, is NOT a right; it is rather an entitlement.

  3. Could they use the name if they changed the logo to a peanut with just the Lil white tip poking out?

  4. I agree the US Patent Office is absurd. But I find it somewhat ironic that Murray Rothbard defends copyrights which prohibits others from using a persons written thoughts without approval when his economic theory is based on human action. Thoughts are not action. The act of writing or recording thoughts certainly makes them valuable to others who enjoy them in the moment. But Professor Rothbard apparently wanted more value. In fact he wanted a perpetual annuity. Reminds me of the old saying: If wishes were horses beggars would ride. I am otherwise an ardent fan of Professor Rothbard who remains my favorite economist both for his ideas and his writing style.

  5. The USPTO did this to the Skins in '99. The Skins prevailed in that case - and will prevail in this one also. This harassment, plain and simple. (I dislike Dan Snyder as much as anyone else, but his steadfastness in this regard is to be lauded.)

  6. With Congress devoting time to this non-issue, it must mean that they're wrapping up the wars, the budget is balanced, entitlements are reformed, education and health care are on the right track…

    PC has overtaken Washington. These jokers screw up everything they touch, so making meaningless gestures like this are all they have.

    This is leadership? Where are their priorities?

  7. Good to see that the fundamentally statist nature of the so-called "Intellectual Property" is getting more explicit.

    IP cannot exist without State. It's just temporary transferable monopoly grants, nothing more, nothing less.

  8. "It is important to protect intellectual creations."

    Nonsense, they are not in harm's way. They can't be, by their nature as patterns of activities in the mind. I assume this is another of Mr Wenzel's promotions of his IP position, utilizing the euphemism of "protection" to refer to a coercive monopoly on the use of thoughts.

  9. So Redskins is disparaging, so the Patent Offices fix is to make it so that anyone can use this disparaging symbol in their marketing and not just the Washington Redskins. So the result is more people able to profit off of a supposedly disparaging symbol.

  10. This is a good thing. First, the Redskins get all sorts of free publicity (watch their merchandise sell like crazy because of the enhanced novelty and the chance that it might disappear). Second, if they win the appeal, it will make the Patent Office look like the political tool it actually is (it's already shown intellectual property to be the state enforced monopoly it actually is). Third, if they lose the appeal, the Redskins can still keep the moniker while all the third party merchandisers jump into the market and their brand becomes even more popular.

    I'm thinking of starting a movement against Notre Dame, to fight their bigotry of pacifist Irish.

  11. The newest pro sports team in Indianapolis (soccer) is called the Indy Eleven. Exciting, isn't it?