Christine Haight Farley on the Washington Redskins Trademark Question

Here. Thanks to Ezra for this.

An excerpt:

How would you feel about a wine called “Khoran?” Apparently, the word “Khoran” is Armenian for altar, which is why a company sought to trademark “Khoran” for wine in the United States. But should such a trademark be registered by the US government when, being phonetically equivalent to the sacred text of Islam, it may offend Muslims when used to denote an alcoholic beverage? In this case, the trademark was refused registration by the US trademark office.

Should a trademark application for jeans called “Jesus Jeans” be treated any differently? In the US and European Union, this registration was allowed, however, China, Switzerland, Australia, Norway, Cuba, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have all refused the trademark, and Britain’s trademark office rejected its as “morally offensive to the public”.

What should we do about offensive trademarks? Granted, this is not the biggest problem that plagues us today and there are very few offensive trademarks that are still in use. Perhaps the most obvious thing to do is to vote with our dollars. That is, generally the market will correct the problem since merchants usually do not want to offend their customers.

And yet there still are some trademarks out there that offend. And some of them offend deeply. One of those trademarks is “Redskins”, which is the trademark for the professional American football team in Washington, DC.