Limbaugh Blasts Move Against Redskins Trademark as 'Tyranny'

Image: Limbaugh Blasts Move Against Redskins Trademark as 'Tyranny'

Wednesday, 18 Jun 2014 09:24 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Conservatives on Wednesday ripped the decision by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to strip the Washington Redskins football team of its trademark — blasting it as the ultimate power play by the Obama administration to plunder free-speech rights.

Leading the way was talk show host Rush Limbaugh. "This is not the Patent and Trademark Office. This is Barack Obama," he charged on his afternoon radio program. "This is executive branch . . . all of this, well, tyranny, it's all coming from the executive branch.

"And Obama owns the executive branch. He is the executive branch.

"This is an abject, total power play," Limbaugh later said, according to a program transcript. "This is the administration illustrating what it can do."

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Tobe Berkovitz, an associate professor of advertising at Boston University, told Newsmax: "So much for freedom of speech. If you can take away that trademark because it's offensive to some, maybe you can start taking away trademarks that are offensive to other people.

"I don't see how something like this could stand," he said.

Anita MonCrief, a board member of the Black Conservatives Fund and a longtime Redskins fan, said the team's name was "not hurting anyone. It is becoming a point to where it is a respected tradition in the D.C. area."

"No one disparages the name 'Redskins' when they use it," added MonCrief, who lived in Washington for eight years before moving to Texas last year. "A lot of people say it with pride.

"That needs to be recognized, and there needs to be some kind of compromise that can be reached for both parties."

The federal office's Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled 2-1 that the Redskins name was "disparaging of Native Americans" and that the team's trademark protections should be canceled.

The decision, which is expected to apply new financial and political pressure to the National Football League team to change its name, came in a case that had been winding through legal channels for more than two decades.

The team can retain the Redskins name, but the decision comes amid increasing criticism of team owner Dan Snyder from political, religious, and sports figures who say the name should be changed.

The Redskins immediately said Wednesday that they would appeal — and the cancellation of trademark protections will be frozen pending the outcome. A similar ruling from the board in 1999 was overturned by a federal court on a technicality in 2003.

"We've seen this story before," Redskins attorney Bob Raskopf said. "And just like last time, today's ruling will have no effect at all on the team's ownership of and right to use the Redskins name and logo. We are confident we will prevail once again."

The ruling involves six uses of the "Redskins" name trademarked from 1967 to 1990. If the board's decision withstands the court challenge, the team can continue to use the name but will lose much of its ability to protect the financial interests connected to it.

If others printed the name on sweatshirts or other apparel without permission, for instance, the Redskins would have a far tougher time going after them.

The action was filed eight years ago, under the Trademark Act of 1946, by five members of the Oneida Indian Nation tribe in New York. The previous ruling was overturned in part because the plaintiffs had waited too long to object to the original trademarks.

The Oneida Indians in the current lawsuit had become adults not long before the suit was filed. The board heard the case in March.

While the Redskins remained confident that they would ultimately prevail, conservatives bashed the board's decision as the work of the Obama administration.

The president has said he would consider changing the name if he owned the team — and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid praised Wednesday's decision and said on the Senate floor that "it is just a matter of time until [Synder] is forced to do the right thing."

Snyder, who purchased the team for $800 million in 1999, has remained adamant about keeping the Redskins name.

Despite the controversy, the Redskins remain the third-most-valuable franchise in the NFL, according to Forbes magazine, with a value of about $1.6 billion last year. The Dallas Cowboys and the New England Patriots are the league's leaders.

The Redskins, established in 1932, have also broken the NFL's single-season attendance records for nine straight years.

Still, the White House is keeping up the pressure on Snyder to change the name, Limbaugh charged.

"It's Dan Snyder they're gunning for here — and they're not gonna stop," he said on his radio program. "The regime is not gonna stop until they make him change that name," Limbaugh said. "It's just flexing of the muscle. This is just pure, raw power on display.

"The thinking, the intellectual firepower, the desire, the instructions, the orders, the power to do this is coming right out of the White House."

Erick Erickson, editor-in-chief of RedState.com, said on his blog that the Redskins trademark was "yanked" because "white liberals who feel guilty about their privilege were offended."

"What is really going on here is that a bunch of overeducated white guys who cry during 'Love Actually' feel they have too much privilege and are thus guilty," Erickson said. "So they have gone out and found things to be offended about on behalf of others less privileged than themselves."

Berkovitz dubbed the entire situation "a P.R. Super Bowl for both sides."

"The anti-Redskins people have been incredibly aggressive. The Redskins team is fighting a somewhat losing P.R. battle.

"It's your par-for-the-course media circus," he added. "You have a group that feels insulted by a powerful entity, and you have many people who don't see what the big to-do is about."

One such person is MonCrief of the Black Conservatives Fund, who told Newsmax she was insulted as both an African American and a Redskins fan.

"We choose to be offended by things that we don't have to be offended by because it pushes an agenda. It's easy to use race-baiting and race-hustling — and the ends justifies the means," she said. "I've seen that so many times with the progressive agenda.

"If I chose to, I could be offended by something every hour — and that's not the type of society we live in. That's the great thing about America," MonCrief added. "We have freedom of speech. We have constitutional rights that allow things to happen, but at the same time allow certain protections.

"Yes, I understand that there are some people who may be offended by this, but . . . we can't have these knee-jerk reactions and basically infringe on people's rights.

"No one has taken that into account because a vocal minority has pushed this through."

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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