Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Should Bureaucrats Get to Discriminate Based on Their Definitions of "Disparaging?"

Setting aside for the sake of argument my opposition to the whole idea of "intellectual property," I find this disturbing:

The United States Patent and Trademark Office has canceled the Washington Redskins trademark registration, calling the football team's name "disparaging to Native Americans." ... Federal trademark law does not permit registration of trademarks that "may disparage" individuals or groups or "bring them into contempt or disrepute."

A trademark ("A peculiar distinguishing mark or device affixed by a manufacturer or a merchant to his goods, the exclusive right of using which is recognized by law") either is or is not a legitimate property claim.

If it is a legitimate property claim, it's a legitimate property claim whether it offends someone -- American Indian (I'm a "native American, born in Tennessee, even disregarding my partial Cherokee and Blackfoot ancestry), DC bureaucrat, whoever -- or not.

If it isn't a legitimate property claim for the Redskins, then neither is it one for the Nike Swoosh or for Coca-Cola's trade dress.

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