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?

Steven Wright undergoes procedures on left knee

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The Red Sox announced that starter Steven Wright underwent a left knee arthroscopy and debridement on Monday in New York. There is no timetable yet for his recovery, so it is still not known if he will be ready for spring training.

Wright, 34, was bothered by left knee issues throughout the 2018 season. He made four starts and 16 relief appearances totaling 53 2/3 innings, posting a 2.68 ERA with 42 strikeouts and 26 walks. Wright was on the ALDS roster but was removed due to the knee issue and did not appear in the postseason.

Wright is entering his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He is due a raise on his $1.1 million salary. The Red Sox could non-tender him, but that seems unlikely.