Articles Tagged with Best trademark and copyright attorneys near Chicago Lake Forest and Evanston

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Many people and organizations have long tried to get the NFL team known as the Redskins to change their name. The name is certainly offensive to most Native Americans and is a racial slur, but it’s not illegal to use it.

The football team has maintained a trademark on the Redskins name since 1967, but when they went to renew it in 2014, the trademark office refused, saying the name disparaged Native Americans. The team sued the trademark office in Virginia, where a trial judge ruled in favor of the trademark office. The team appealed the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which is also located in Virginia, but that court put off ruling on the case until after the U.S. Supreme Court had given its ruling on Matal v. Tam, in which an Asian-American dance-rock band is seeking a trademark for their name: the Slants.

While the trademark office insisted the name was offensive, the band members said that was not their intention in coming up with the band’s name. Instead, they were looking to empower themselves and other Asian Americans by repurposing a derogatory term, much like the way homosexuals have taken ownership of the term “queer.”

All eight of the judges were unanimous in ruling in favor of the Slants, though their reasoning differed (Neil Gorsuch was not included in the decision, as the hearing was in January, prior to his appointment). Half the judges maintained a ban on trademarks for disparaging names would be in violation of the First Amendment, even when taking into account that judicial scrutiny for commercial speech tends to be relatively relaxed compared to other forms of speech. The judges pointed out that the First Amendment protects all speech, however hateful or offensive. Continue reading

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Sports teams often make more money from the merchandise and apparel they sell, stamped with the team name and logo, than they do tickets to games. As a result, it makes sense that they have a vested interest in protecting the right to put their name and logo on clothing and merchandise, but a patent on the name of a state seems to many people to be a step too far.

The University of Kentucky, home to the basketball team, the Wildcats, is claiming that it purchased the patent for putting “Kentucky” on any clothing back in 1997. So when Colin Fultz filed for a trademark of his business’s name, “Kentucky Mist Moonshine,” he received a cease and desist letter from the University of Kentucky. The University says it does not object to the name of the whiskey, only to the word “Kentucky” being put on promotional hats, T-shirts, etc.

Fultz’s business is a distillery that makes and sells fruit-infused whiskey and he has had to fight for his business since it was still just a concept. His hometown of Whitesburg was a dry town up until 2007, so when Fultz started taking the first steps to getting his business up and running a few years ago, the City Council needed some convincing that the town was ready, not just for alcohol, but for a distillery. Fultz thought the biggest hurdle was over when the City Council just barely voted to let him have his distillery, but that was just the beginning.

The athletic official for the University of Kentucky, Mr. Schlafer, said they intended for the letter to open up negotiations between Fultz and the University. He insists the local college, which makes about $123 million every year from the athletic department, has a right to protect the Wildcat brand. Continue reading