The Redskins and Trademark Disparagement (Published)
Consider this scenario: “When Chinatown dance-rock bank “The Slants” wanted to trademark their name, they didn’t imagine any problems. After all, they were the only band with that name. But the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) saw things differently and denied their application. The USPTO ruled that “The Slants” name “consists of or comprises immoral, deceptive, or scandalous matter; or matter which may disparage.” In this case, the ruling was in reference to the term “slant” as a derogatory term for someone of Asian descent.” Does this fact pattern seem to the reader as so outlandish as to be the product of a great imagination? It might be fiction… but it is true…. (Fabio, 2011; Bonadio, 2015). This article will discuss issues relating to registration of trademarks and how they might be subject to cancellation or rejection on grounds of disparagement in light of facts developed in a series of cases involving the Washington Redskins and their famous (or now infamous) trademark.
Keywords: Cancellation, Disparage, Laches, Lanham Act, Redskin, Registration, Scandalous, Trademark