Change the mascot: The Washington Redskins, offensive trade marks, freedom of speech and racism in sport

Rimmer, Matthew (2016) Change the mascot: The Washington Redskins, offensive trade marks, freedom of speech and racism in sport. Australian Intellectual Property Law Bulletin.

Abstract

There has been a long history of conflict and disputation in respect of Indigenous Intellectual Property.

In the United States, there has often been controversy over representations of Native Americans in trademark law. There has been intensive public and legal debate over offensive trademarks, such as the Washington Redskins.

The Navajo activist Amanda Blackhorse has led a campaign to cancel the trademarks of the Washington Football team – the Washington Redskins. She observed:

"This is such a huge victory not only for, you know, our group, but for Native Americans all over the nation…. The cancellation of the trademark does not mean that the team has to change their name. Our biggest thing with this is that, you know, their name, the "R" word, does not deserve federal protection. We don’t think that Dan Snyder and the co-owners should make money off of a racial slur, especially a racial slur directed at Native American people."

In a study of the impact of native mascots and team names on American Indian and Alaska native youth, Erik Stigman and Victoria Phillips have documented how ‘these stereotypical representations are too often understood as factual representations and thus “contribute to the development of cultural biases and prejudices”’. Opponents to the trademark ran advertisements against the Washington Redskins as part of the ‘Change the Mascot’ campaign.

This article previews the Supreme Court of the United States’ possible consideration of a dispute over offensive trademarks, freedom of speech, and racism in sport. It suggests that it would be worthwhile the Supreme Court of the United States to hear a combined case dealing with the question of offensive trademarks. It argues that that it is within the power of the United States Patent and Trademark Office to regulate offensive trademarks. Furthermore, it highlights the need for the United States Government to provide effective protection for Indigenous Intellectual Property. First, this piece considers the legal dispute in respect of the Washington Redskins trademarks. Second, it examines the parallel conflict dealing with The Slants trademarks. Finally, this study examines the political responses to the controversy over offensive trademarks in the United States Congress, the White House, and the Presidential race.

Impact and interest:

Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

36 since deposited on 16 Aug 2016
36 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 98129
Item Type: Other
Refereed: No
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Indigenous Intellectual Property, Trade Mark Law, Freedom of Speech, Racism, Sport
ISSN: 1035-1353
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Law (180101)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Constitutional Law (180108)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Human Rights Law (180114)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Intellectual Property Law (180115)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2016 [please consult the author]
Copyright Statement: A later version of this article was published by LexisNexis in Australian Intellectual Property Law Bulletin.
Deposited On: 16 Aug 2016 00:13
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2016 05:43

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page