Obama Stiff-Arms Constitution: Admin Lawyers Fight ‘Redskins’ Trademark

Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, March 24, 2015

The Washington Redskins’ name is commercial speech and isn’t the kind of free expression protected by the First Amendment, the Obama administration told a federal court this week in defending a ruling that has stripped the football team of trademark protections.

The team’s name itself is not at stake, but if the trademark is canceled the name becomes less valuable because the owners would struggle to enforce their trademark against anyone who wanted to use the name or Indian logo on their own merchandise.

In a filing Monday, the Justice Department defended the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s decision last year to strip the team of protections.

“Not only do trademarks function only minimally as a vehicle for expression, but trademark registration also involves the necessary participation of the government in approving that registration, which confers relaxed First Amendment review even when combined with the speech of a private party,” the Obama lawyers said.

Trademark law says disparaging marks cannot be granted protections, and the government argues that the name has become disparaging over the last century. The trademark board, in its 2-1 ruling, also cited polling suggesting a significant percentage of Native Americans consider the name a slur.

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  • This is one legal avenue that I would be sweating out if I was a senior executive with the MPAA. A crowd whose participants are really big Obama/Democrat donors and bundlers.

    • evilsandmich

      I hadn’t thought of that angle, but you’re right. It seems like the MPAA and (perhaps especially)RIAA would be all over friend of the court briefs on behalf of the Redskins because otherwise they’re just loading shells that are going to be fired onto their position.

  • superlloyd

    Big government interference because it doesn’t fir their racist agenda.

    • archer

      You forget the DOJ has nothing else to do.

      • Robert Smith

        They’re just a branch office of the SPLC now.

  • TheMaskedUnit

    Negro ideas of civil rights seem to come out as fascism and tyranny for everyone else …

    • Hammerheart

      Negro politics in general is myopic tyranny. Can you honestly tell the difference between Emperor Hussein and some two bit African dictator besides one having accessing to a first world (debatable) political cabinet?

      • evilsandmich

        The two bit African dictator is usually rather violent in regards to illegal immigration.

        • Hammerheart

          True, but our African dictator is trying his hardest to provide the crazies over in Iran with enhanced nuclear capability. The same Iran that routinely chants ‘Death to America’.

          • John Smith

            They should stop with that chant already – Barry’s done killed her and that racist white beeyotch had it comin’ an’ sheet.

      • TheMaskedUnit

        There’s plenty of great negro leaders. What about King Jaffe Joffer of Zamunda and that place where the vibranium comes from too. They have a diverse ruler.

        • Reynardine

          Well played, sir.

  • EuropeanIdentity33

    Looks like Obama is trying to become a “civil rights legend” during his last months in office so he can leave some sort of legacy and distract future generations from how incompetent and corrupt his presidency had been.

    • evilsandmich

      Or as Steve Sailed said, he’s setting himself up to be Super Sharpton

      • EuropeanIdentity33

        I’ve always wondered if after his term he would become one of those race hustling extortionists like Al Sharpton or Jessie Jackson. Or maybe he would get a show on MSNBC.

        • Hammerheart

          Honestly after his term and the damage he has done can no longer be hid, he’ll probably flee back to Kenya or Indonesia or just show his true colors and go to Yemen.

          • EuropeanIdentity33

            I hope you’re right, but I still think he sees a golden money making opportunity in the “civil rights” business and he will probably try to capitalize on it.

          • Hammerheart

            Yeah, there’s always the possibility of him being the supreme race hustler in chief but at that point people will be sick of him hopefully. I think Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are on the verge of milking the race game clean.

          • EuropeanIdentity33

            I think he has deluded himself enough to believe that this country still loves him and will always love him He still has a 46 or 47% approval rating. He is also the first black president so given a few years and the next catastrophe of a president I’m sure the blacks and white liberals will think of him as the second coming of Christ again.

          • Blackfish

            He’ll do what Clinton has done. Have his “memoirs” ghostwritten in exchange for a huge advance and then give six figure “speeches” to all white audiences (Wall Street firms, trade groups, etc.).

    • SFLBIB

      Re: Legacy

      Paraphrasing, “Let the name of obama be stricken from every book and tablet, stricken from all pylons and obelisks, stricken from every monument of America. Let the name of obama be unheard and unspoken, erased from the memory of men for all time.” – Next Republican President

  • Reynardine

    “The Washington Redskins’ name is commercial speech and isn’t the kind of
    free expression protected by the First Amendment, the Obama
    administration told a federal court this week in defending a ruling that
    has stripped the football team of trademark protections.”

    What part of

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
    prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of
    speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to
    assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    do you not understand?

    Commercial speech only covers speech to encourage a consumer to buy a product or to guard against misrepresenting a product. Plus the commercial speech clause is essentially nowhere in the Constitution, unless you stretch the commerce clause, which lefties usually do.

    • evilsandmich

      If that is indeed cause enough to nuke a copyright, then the NYT, etc. Should be public domain.

    • Alden

      The constitution is whatever a federal judge says it is. The founders wrote it that way. The issue was settled in 1804 Marbury vs Madison
      This government restriction of free speech, but federal judges cam and do make up the laws as they go along.

    • SFLBIB

      What about the promises that politicians make?

  • Race Heretic

    I hate dumb white liberals. I live in a state with lots of Native Americans and I see Redskins bumper stickers, jerseys, hoodies, hats, and so forth all the time – used by Indians. I am fairly certain most of these Indians wouldn’t root for the Skins if they had a different name.

    No one spits out the word “redskin” in hate or anger anymore. This “issue” is idiotic.

    • IstvanIN

      No one spits out the word “redskin” in hate or anger anymore.
      Maybe these nitwits having been watching episodes of Bonanza where the bad guy said something mean?

    • I’m partly Amerind (eastern woodlands tribes) and the name doesn’t bother me; I merely think the “sport” (game) is silly. No, I don’t want any casino money. Perhaps the name should be changed, however. I’m voting for the “Washington Tax-Parasites”. That’s all we have in Washington, anyway.

      • Alexandra1973

        Same here, a dab of Cherokee. I personally think naming a team after someone or something is a compliment to that person, thing, or group.

        Now Chief Wahoo, the Cleveland Indians mascot…I can understand people (like my mom) getting miffed at him looking like a grinning idiot. But I have more important things to be concerned about.

        • Doesn’t *ANY* rational person have more important things to be concerned about? I wish my best friend of 33 years would quit smoking and lose some weight. I hope the recent tool order from Harbor Freight arrives today. I hope my raspberry bush has survived the winter and produces berries to go on vanilla ice cream this coming summer. A sports team mascot isn’t even on my long list.

          • Tarczan

            Harbor Freight? Cheap Chinese stuff that only works for a short period. Anvils, hammers and such are ok, anything with heavy use I’m buying elsewhere.

          • For a home hobby workshop, Harbor Freight is fine. For stuff that must stand up to commercial production use, I would shop elsewhere as well. In addition, the Sears “Craftsman” brand is now also made in China, probably in the same factories and on the same tooling. What one is paying for then is the brand name.

        • Tarczan

          Chief Wahoo is a brave warrior.

      • drunkbobby

        Why not just the Washington Reds? Replace the warrior with a red star and leave the rest alone. It would remove the slur of having native Americans associated with the commie cess pit in DC while providing some truth in advertising. Perfect win-win.

  • Lt. Greyman, NVA

    “Not only do trademarks function only minimally as a vehicle for
    expression, but trademark registration also involves the necessary
    participation of the government in approving that registration, which
    confers relaxed First Amendment review even when combined with the
    speech of a private party,” the Obama lawyers said.”

    They just lie with every breath. So can I start filling water bottles and advertise my “Coke” brand water? Open a burger joint and call it McDonalds? Weld together a “car” and call it a Dodge Challenger?

    So they don’t like redskin. How do the Obama’s feel about shitskins?

  • A Freespeechzone

    WHY is this important?

    I’m more concerned about Obama/Kerry giving Iran the ability to develop nukes….

    Efing moron.

    • John Smith

      Important to Barry or important to Americans? For the Former, it is bogus and just another attempt to defeat those he considers his real enemy – the American people. For the latter, it very much strikes at our rights and freedoms, even if symbolically for most.

    • SFLBIB

      Why is this important? Because liberals have race on the brain, and they agitate until they get what they want.

  • inotherwords

    So now we know these liberals don’t believe we have freedom of speech when it comes to commercial speech. Previously we learned they don’t believe we have freedom of speech when it comes to political speech (“you can’t shout fire in a crowded theater”, asking Youtube to take down the anti-Islam video, political donations are not speech). We also learned they don’t think private speech should be protected (racist frat song). So what exactly do they think IS protected free speech besides speech they agree with?

    • A Freespeechzone

      Liberals have NEVER supported Free Speech; whenever they can, they do their best to shut down any speech that they disagree with.

      Make NO mistake, with Net Neutrality now passed by Congress, unapproved speech will be banned–and in some cases, considered Hate Speech that can draw prosecution and conviction.

      The Constitition is being shredded before our eyes and few will do anything to stop it.

    • Alden

      New black panthers chanting “kill White cops” is free speech. Sexual relations of all kinds in porn movies is free speech.

      Free speech is whatever federal judges say it is. Forbidden speech is whatever federal judges say it is.
      Presidents have term limits. Judges have lifelong tenure.

  • Alden

    I’m going to form a non profit corporation and hire a crew of commission grant writers. I’ll give myself a $300,000 a year salary and $100,000 no show jobs to all my friends and relatives.
    Then my legal staff will sue cities and states like Ohio, Nebraska, Omaha, Seattle etc to change their names because of insensitivity

  • WR_the_realist

    So “Redskins” wasn’t disparaging 40 years ago but today it is. Who suddenly decided it was disparaging? What innocuous word today will be deemed disparaging 20 years from now?

    • Harry Reid spilled the beans about that by accident.

      It goes like this:

      Redskins:Indian voters::Ferguson:black voters.

      Even though all the good scientific polling evidence shows that Indians don’t much care about Indian team nicknames.

      • sl

        No, it’s definitely for liberals. They don’t care what indians actually think, they want to have power of other people.

  • Bubba Jones

    The crazy thing is that getting rod of the trademark will just cause the spread of Redskin paraphernalia. More folks will use it and wear it.

  • sl

    I’m ok with this. I dislike that watching negroes play ball games is a multi-billion dollar business.