Friday, May 22, 2009

Steve Baird Thinks the Washington Redskins Need a Re-Branding

Steve Baird knows a lot about the REDSKINS case. He filed the original petition for cancellation with the TTAB in 1992, and successfully convinced the Board in 1994 that the laches defense was inapplicable to a Section 2(a) disparagement claim. Steve provides some incisive commentary on this saga at the Duets Blog, in "Re-branding Madness in Washington" Overlooks Obvious: The Washington Redskins.

Steve points out that in 1994 the TTAB concluded that "there exists a broader interest -- an interest beyond the personal interest being asserted by the present petitioners -- in preventing a party from receiving the benefits of registration when a trial might show that [the team's] marks hold a substantial segment of the population up to public ridicule."

But he notes some goods news, despite the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeal's ruling on laches: "There is a brand new generation of Native American Petitioners, led by Amanda Blackhorse, to make sure that a brand new similar case is actually and finally decided on the merits."

In fact, doesn't this development demonstrate why the 1994 ruling that struck the team's laches (slept on rights) defense was correct in the first place? The fact that, as long as the offensive team name continues, there always will be new Native American Petitioners reaching the age of majority anxious to object shows that their cause of action is rooted in public policy, not some personal and individual right that might be waived by failing to act quickly enough.

But here's the key question. Steve asks: "Again, putting the legal issues aside, why doesn't the team do the right thing, as a responsible business, and hire a branding guru to engage in some serious and successful re-branding?"

I suspect Steve already knows the an$wer.

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2009


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