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US Supreme Court gets one right

November 16, 2009

No it has nothing to do with any major Supreme Court case, however the Supreme Court is allowing to let a DC Court of Appeals decision stand involving a ‘politically incorrect trademark’. That trademark? The Washington Redskins football logo, which has been under criticsm for decades from American Indian groups for being racially insensitive. Here’s the story from the WSJ:

Suzan Harjo v. Pro-Football Inc., a case that began in 1992, centered on whether a dispute over a potentially offensive trademark can be dismissed if the challenge was not filed promptly. Though the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled in 1999 that the name was disparaging and should be changed, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. later decided that the challengers had waited too long to file their petition. The Redskins first registered the mascot with the Patent and Trademark Office in 1967.

Groups of law and psychology professors have filed amicus briefs in the case, urging the court to prohibit dismissing trademark disputes based on timeliness questions if the name does public damage.

In this case, use of the “Redskins” epithet propagates a negative stereotype of Native Americans, the psychology professors argued.

In a brief filed during the current season, the professors also assert that the damage incurred by the mascot is greater given the popularity of professional football and of the Redskins themselves.

Even though American Indian’s have sued and fought and allowed political correctness to run amok  forcing nearly every High School and College to change their mascot or logo, this won’t open the option for those school to change back. High Schools and Universities (Like Marquette) won’t be reintroducing their Warriors mascot or nickname any time soon since the Supreme Court said that the American Indian’s had waited too long to challenge the trademark and forfeited their right to sue.

On the bright side, this may allow teams that have had their logos and nicknames trademarked for a long time to keep them. Assuming these teams have trademarks and the suits haven’t been hanging around for awhile teams like The Fighting Illini, Central Michigan Chippewas and the Florida State Seminoles won’t be changed anytime soon. The Braves and Cleveland Indian’s won’t either. At least there is a win for the less than politically correct crowd there.

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