Articles Posted in Intellectual Property

The Washington Redskins – who play football in Maryland – won last week a lawsuit challenging the Trademark Office’s decision to cancel the Redskins’ trademark as racially derogatory. The court found essentially that too much time has elapsed and the Redskins would be prejudiced by lawsuits that could have been brought long before the Redskins made the investment that they have in the name.

I don’t know what my reaction I have to this ruling. If American Indians are as a group truly offended by the Redskins name they should get rid of it, with or without a court order. But I don’t get the impression that American Indians are offended by the name. My impression comes from American Indians who are more assimilated; I’ve never taken the pulse of people who live on an Indian reservation who might have a different view. But somehow, I doubt it.

According to the Sports Business Journal, Major League Baseball and its Players’ Association are submitting a Writ of Certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a ruling made by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals that allows fantasy baseball companies to continue to use players’ names and statistics without paying a licensing fee.

Major League Baseball has argued that players should be paid when their names are used for fantasy baseball leagues. Conveniently, they believe the players should be paid in the same way they are paid when their names are used for product endorsements.

The problem Major League Baseball has had in advancing this argument is that their position flies in the face of existing copyright law. As the 8th Circuit pointed out, it would be a strange law, to say the least, that a person would not have a First Amendment right to use information that is available to everyone in the public domain. There is no violation of the right of publicity.