This is interesting. And it could have some repercussions for our old friend Chief Wahoo.
The ruling came this morning in a case brought by five Native Americans, who sought cancellation of the team’s registrations by arguing that the trademarks violated the federal law, as stated at 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a), prohibiting the “registration of marks that may disparage persons or bring them into contempt or disrepute,” as the agency wrote in its ruling.
This likely won’t go into effect immediately, as the Redskins can seek a stay of the order pending appeal. But if it holds up, it would allow anyone who wanted to to sell a Redskins shirt or merchandise with Redskins’ current trademarks. That hits the bottom line and that, more than any of the political pressure in the world, could inspire the Redskins to change their name, so as to continue to reap the profits of their trademarks.
Could this be applied to Chief Wahoo? I’m not a trademarks guy, so I’m not sure. It’s possible that Wahoo was trademarked at a time when it wasn’t considered disparaging. That seems crazy in that a racist sambo-esque character has been considered offensive in the country at large for at least as long as Wahoo has existed and maybe even longer. But like I said, I’m not sure about this area of the law and whether the Indians have some sort of safe harbor that the Redskins do not. Here is a law review article on the subject from 1998. It seems to think that the same rules would apply to both Wahoo and “Redskins.”
If they don’t, though, it could eventually spell the end of Wahoo merchandise and Wahoo logos on Indians uniforms. Because if they can’t make a buck off of it, why bother?
Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:
The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.
The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.
I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.
In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.
The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.
The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.
Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.