Emotions run high whenever there’s a ruling about the Redskins’ trademarks. It’s a touchy issue, but the legal question is straightforward:
Did a substantial composite of Native Americans find the Redskins’ registrations disparaging when they were granted?
That’s it. That’s all the courts care about. Here are some questions people find interesting:
- Should the US government refuse to register and deregister disparaging trademarks as it has since 1946?
- Are all Native Americans offended?
- Should Native Americans be offended?
Those may be interesting questions, but they’re irrelevant to the legal question, which is not anywhere near as philosophical.
Here’s what the court had to consider when making its decision: A resolution of a body representing about one-third of Native Americans saying that the Redskins registrations are disparaging and were disparaging on the day they were issued, against a handful of individual Native Americans saying that they, personally, do not find the marks disparaging.
Pretty easy to conclude that a substantial composite of Native Americans found the trademarks disparaging at the time of issue.
The Redskins can go right on calling themselves the Redskins, playing football, selling T-shirts and tickets, and wearing helmets. The government won’t stand in the way of them doing something a substantial composite of Native Americans find disparaging, because we all have the constitutional right to be offensive. But that doesn’t mean the government is required to help them offend by granting them additional legal rights.
That makes sense to me.