Yesterday in Seattle — where nearly 11,000, sleepless, brand protection, trademark, and IP professionals from 150 countries have registered and converged for INTA’s 140th Annual Meeting — yours truly had the distinct pleasure of sharing some thoughts on the intersection between federal trademark registration and Free Speech. Here are some before, during and after

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the filing of the petition to cancel the R-Word registrations held by Pro-Football, Inc., the NFL franchise playing near the Nation’s capital.

Indian Country Today has published an interview with Suzan Shown Harjo, lead petitioner in Harjo et al v. Pro-Football, Inc., and organizer of Blackhorse

As many anxiously await the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s (TTAB) decision in Blackhorse v. Pro Football, Inc., a trademark cancellation action seeking to revoke six federal service mark registrations containing the R-Word (issued between 1967 and 1990), the pressure is mounting for the NFL team located near our Nation’s Capital to stop

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the requested appeal of Harjo v. Pro-Football, Inc., the nearly two-decade old trademark case seeking cancellation of the U.S. Trademark Registrations owned by the NFL franchise in the Nation’s Capitol. In doing so, the highest Court in the land, has permitted the laches ruling to stand. Basically, permitting dismissal of the action given

Back in May, I wrote a piece entitled “Re-Branding Madness in Washington” Overlooks Obvious: The Washington Redskins,” discussing the trademark cancellation action that I filed on behalf of seven prominent Native American leaders back in September 1992 (Harjo et al v. Pro-Football, Inc.), and calling for the football team to “hire a branding 

Re-branding occurs all the time.

Re-branding occurs in business. Remember when Bell Atlantic became Verizon? Andersen Consulting became Accenture? How about when Philip Morris became Altria?

Re-branding occurs in politics too. Just days ago, Judson Berger discussed a kind of “re-branding madness” consuming Washington, D.C. right now: “Terrorist attack is out. — ‘man caused disaster’ is in.” Our friends at Catchword Branding had a lot of fun with the political re-branding of Swine Flu.

Re-branding even occurs in the world of professional sports. Remember when the NBA franchise Washington Bullets became the Washington Wizards in 1997 out of concern that the Bullets name of some twenty-three years (1974-1997) had acquired “violent overtones”.  How about the recent re-branding from the Seattle Supersonics to the Oklahoma City Thunder? Even the NFL has decided to recognize Cincinnati Bengal Chad Johnson’s re-branding to Ocho Cinco.

Re-branding changes, according to Wikipedia, are “usually in an attempt to distance [the brand] from certain negative connotations of the previous branding.” So, given the widespread meaning and understanding of “redskin” as “offensive slang” and that it is “used as a disparaging term for a Native American,” given the pain the term has caused, and given that the team’s helmets sport a Native American profile and not a certain variety of spud on them, why won’t the Washington Redskins get on the re-branding bandwagon in our nation’s capital? After all, even one of the attorneys at the same law firm hired by the team apparently has spoken out, read about the details here.


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