Thursday, June 19, 2014

What Happened to Free Speech?

E21 writes:
In a blow to freedom of speech, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTA) of the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has decided to eliminate the trademark protection of the NFL's Washington Redskins team. Every other NFL team, and practically every other team of any consequence in America, has trademark protection. But if this ruling is allowed to stand, the Washington Redskins, one of the most valuable franchises in professional sports, will not.
A 1946 law allows for refusal of a trademark protection request if it, “Consists of or comprises immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter; or matter which may disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.” However, the US Patent and Trademark Office's decision to remove the Washington Redskins’ trademark is an example of selective enforcement to suit political ends. 
Numerous other sports teams with names or logos that can cause offense have been granted trademarks, such as the Chicago Blackhawks, Florida State Seminoles, and Cleveland Indians. TIME found that 450 companies have Native American Mascots protected by U.S. trademarks. 
A market economy relies on the rule of law. Law is supposed to be consistently applied, not selectively enforced. This principle has been forgotten as political pressure has grown. Recently, 50 Democratic senators signed a letter urging the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, to force the owner of the Redskins, Daniel Snyder, to change the team’s name.


  1. ACLU begrudging agrees with that position. Man, they hate that logo, but yeah, free speech somewhat more important. I guess. ::ACLU pouts::

  2. Free speech was destroyed when the government agreed to prohibit others from using these trademarks. The best approach would be to eliminate the PTO and let the market sort it out.