USPTO CANCELS SIX “REDSKINS” TRADEMARKS

Photo: Keith Allison; license:Creative Commons Attribution- Share Alike 2.0 Generic In a 99 page opinion, and based on at 2-1 vote, the USPTO cancelled six “Redskins” patents issued to Pro-Football, Inc. (link to full opinion). The cancellation proceeding was initiated by five Native Americans (the “Petitioners”) pursuant to Section 14 of the Trademark Act of 1946. The basis for the requested cancellation was the claim that the protected marks disparaged Native American persons at the time they were issued. The disparagement claims only pertain to the actual terms “Redskins” and “Redskinnettes.” The term “Redskinnettes” refers to the Washington Redskins cheerleaders. The Petitioners specifically claim that the word “Redskins” is a racial slur. The disparagement test comprises a two-step inquiry: What is the meaning of the matter in question, as it appears in the marks and as those marks are used in connection with goods and services identified on the registration? Is the meaning of the marks one that may disparage Native Americans? Photo: Keith Allison; License: Creative Commons Attribution- Share Alike 2.0 Generic With respect to the first question, the USPTO found that the word “Redskins” when used in connection with professional football does refer to Native Americans. Therefore, the first prong was met. In deciding the second question, the USPTO looks not to the American public as a whole, but to the view of the referenced group (i.e., Native Americans). Furthermore, it is not the views of the majority of the referenced group that necessarily matter. Rather, cancellation is appropriate if a “substantial composite” of the referenced group consider the word derogatory. The Petitioners presented testimony from “experts”...

CITY HAS NO LIABILITY FOR STREETS AND SIDEWALKS

Photo by Alan Standton [Some rights reserved] In an interesting MTCA immunity case, the Mississippi Court of Appeals recently reversed a judgment against the City of Natchez. The case involved a fall caused by part of a sidewalk collapsing. The circuit court found that the City was liable but reduced the judgment by 50% for the contributory negligence of the plaintiff. The Court of Appeals reversed the circuit court finding that he City is immune under the discretionary-function-exemption provision of the MCTA. According to this case, a City has no duty to repair its streets and sidewalks. The City also has duty to warn of dangerous conditions on its streets and sidewalks. The Court concluded that in the absence of a statute imposing such a duty, the decision to make repairs is discretionary which means that the City was...

HOTEL BEDS ARE NOT DANGEROUS PER SE

          photo by Prayitno Some rights reserved The Mississippi Court of Appeals recently ruled that a casino hotel bed was not an unreasonably dangerous condition.  According to the opinion, a hotel guest suffered a broken ankle when she hit her ankle against a metal bed frame that was hidden by a bed spread. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the casino. In affirming the trial court, the Court of Appeals noted that there was no evidence on the key elements for a premises liability case. Specifically, the Court found no evidence that the bed was a dangerous condition; or, that the Casino caused the dangerous condition; or, that the Casino knew of the dangerous condition before the injury. Notably, the Plaintiff’s lawyer did not help his client (or the profession) when he sued the casino but neglected to to designate a liability expert, file discovery or take any depositions. Apparently, the lawyer was not aware of the legal principle that proof of injury is not...