Wider Implications of the U.S. Patent Office Decision on the Washington Redskins

Washington Redskins helmets lay on the ground during the team's game against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum on September 29, 2013 in Oakland, California.   - Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Washington Redskins helmets lay on the ground during the team's game against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum on September 29, 2013 in Oakland, California.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Wider Implications of the U.S. Patent Office Decision on the Washington Redskins

On Wednesday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced it was canceling the Washington Redskins trademark registration. The plaintiffs, like many fans across the country, had argued the name was disparaging to Native Americans. Guest host Susan Page and a panel discuss what the ruling means for the team and evolving notions of what's offensive.

Yesterday the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the trademark registrations of the Washington Redskins. A panel of three judges at the agency ruled the football team’s name is disparaging to Native Americans. The team says it will appeal the decision but pressure is building for change. This is the second time the Washington Redskins team has had its trademarks revoked: In 1999, the Patent Office ruled the name was disparaging, but the decision was overturned on appeal. Critics of the name say this time is different because of a groundswell of objections, including a letter signed by fifty U.S. senators. Supporters of the name argue it honors Native Americans, and that forcing a name change violates freedom of speech. Guest host Susan Page and a panel discuss the debate over a trademark and changing ideas about what’s offensive.

Guests

Gregg Easterbrook

author, "The King of Sports: Football's Impact on America." He is a contributing editor of "The Atlantic Monthly" and "The Washington Monthly," and a columnist for ESPN.com.

Bruce Fein

principal, Bruce Fein & Associates and author of "Constitutional Peril: The Life and Death Struggle for Our Constitution and Democracy."

Christine Haight Farley

law professor, American University Washington College of Law; author of the forthcoming book "Global Issues In Trademark Law"

Jacqueline Pata

executive director, National Congress of American Indians; former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Native American Programs of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) during the Clinton Administration. Pata is a member of the Raven/Sockeye Clan of the Tlingit Tribe (pronounced – Kling-get) and a member of the Central Council of the Tlingit-Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska.

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