Chief Wahoo, you’re on notice: The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office cancels the Redskins trademarks

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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?

Brewers promote David Stearns from GM to president of baseball operations

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It used to be that the top dog in a team’s baseball operations department was the general manager. That has changed over the past several years with some combination of title inflation, a genuine addition of supervisory layers and, on some level, employe poaching insurance leading to the top dog now being called, usually, a “president of baseball operations.”

Brewers’ general manager David Stearns is the latest to assume that tile, as the club just announced that he has been promoted to Milwaukee’s president of baseball operations. He has also received a contract extension of unknown length.

Not a big shock given how well the Brewers did in 2018, winning the NL Central title and playing in the NLCS. It’s also worth noting — with a nod to that “employee poaching insurance” item above — that Stearns has drawn some interest from other organizations. It’s thus not unfair to see the promotion is both a thanks for a job well done and a means of keeping other teams’ hands off of him, as employees are generally not given permission to interview for lateral moves, but are given permission to interview for promotions.

The Mudville Nine may have wanted to steal him from Milwaukee, but for Stearns to get a promotion from where he is now would require the creation of some other lofty title.