Harry Reid: ‘Redskins’ Off Limits. What about ‘Beaners’?

For the second time in fifteen years, the U.S. Patent Office has deemed the Washington Redskins name offensive, calling it “disparaging to Native Americans.” That means the trademarks have been, in effect, voided. Nullified. Vanquished. Redskins’ owner Dan Snyder can still use the name and logo, of course. But if this ruling stands, it means others can more easily use it as well. That will mean anyone can sell Redskins gear, a big hit to the pocketbook of those that hold the trademark.

The ruling thrilled the likes of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Of the ruling, Nancy had this to say, “Today’s actions by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are in line with longstanding rules on the treatment of disparaging or offensive names. While we respect the right to free speech, slurs have no right to trademark protections.” 

Reid was less politician than bully when he responded to the decision. “Daniel Snyder may be the last person in the world to realize this, but it’s just a matter of time until he is forced to do the right thing and change the name.” “Forced to do the right thing….”

Hmmmm, I don’t know about you but I’m a little terrified of a government that can tell me what they think the “right thing” is, then use their power to force me to do whatever it is that’s “right.” Never mind the fact that Mr. Snyder is a business owner. Never mind the fact that the current Redskins logo was developed with the input of Native Americans.

Naturally today’s ruling got me thinking about trademarks. Specifically, can they really be denied for being offensive? As I sip my Beaners, er, Biggby coffee, I decided to do a little searching at the website of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Channeling my inner Walt Kowalski, I set forth on a journey of anti-politically correct discovery.

I started with the things that easily offend me. Nope, “Harry Reid” is not trademarked. But CAIR is. I guess funneling money to terrorist organizations isn’t offensive enough.

“Creepy Ass Cracka” appears to have been trademarked twice just last August for hats, tee-shirts, and bumper stickers. “Disparaging” by Nancy Pelosi’s standards? Apparently not. Though her continued facial upgrades are a bit creepy. Well played, Creepy Ass Cracka. Well played.

“Uppity Negro” seems to have passed the Nancy Pelosi slur test as well as “Zipperhead”. The folks over at the Daily Caller found a few more names that Congressional bullies might want to add to their list of companies to force into doing the right thing.

My favorite Michigan owned coffee place, Biggby, with their trademark B just missed that list. That’s because CEO Bob Fish made the decision to rebrand in 2007. At the time he said, “As we’ve continued to expand we’ve heard more and more comments about our name, to the point that we had to take a hard look at changing it.” It was with his pocketbook in mind and as a business owner that he made that decision. He wasn’t forced into it via lawsuit or threats from the government. Would you go to a company called Beaners for coffee? I would and did. Because when I saw the name, I thought about coffee beans. Because it’s a coffee house. And they sell coffee. Made from coffee beans. (Yes, even after seven years it DOES apparently require explanation). The prices were great and, as a bonus, they weren’t Starbucks. I didn’t find the rebrand necessary but Mr. Fish did. I trust that as the owner he can make the best choices for himself, his company, and his employees.

Look, be offended at the Redskins. Or don’t be. I don’t really care. I’d contend that Mr. Snyder is the best person to make decisions on behalf of his team. If the country is offended by the name, they’ll show it by boycotting games. They won’t buy shirts and hats and posters and all of the other merchandise that the Redskins sell on a daily basis.

Do you really want the government deciding what is offensive and what isn’t? You want Harry Reid to be your barometer of “the right thing?” The Harry Reid that referred to then Senator Obama as “light skinned” and “with no Negro dialect.” That Harry Reid?

No wonder he couldn’t trademark himself.

Links:

http://dailycaller.com/2014/06/18/12-trademarks-declared-less-offensive-than-redskins/

http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2014/06/18/trademark-board-rules-against-washington-redskins-name/?intcmp=latestnews

http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/index.jsp

Image: Courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/david_shane/8563902628/

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Pauline Wolak

About the author, Pauline Wolak: Pauline is a proud wife and mother of three. When she isn't being the world's greatest Girl Friday, she is volunteers her time as a school librarian and athletic director. Pauline enjoys football, politics, good beer, and arguing with anyone. She's a devout pro-life Catholic. Pauline believes in the 1st Amendment and uses it on a daily basis, most notably to ambush unsuspecting family members in political debate! You can find her work here at Clash and at redknucklepolitics.com. Follow her on twitter at @MiStateFan. View all articles by Pauline Wolak

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