All in the best possible taste


All in the best possible taste

Everett Collection /

The recent debate surrounding the ‘Redskins’ trademark has raised the question of what is acceptable and what is not in the protection of IP. But what other trademarks have caused controversy and how good are current laws at preventing offensive registrations? WIPR investigates.

Where do you draw the line between what is acceptable to profit from and what is not?

For the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the question would seem, on the surface, fairly clear cut. In a long anticipated decision, which culminated in June, the office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) comprehensively cancelled six trademarks belonging to the Washington Redskins American football team.

The trademarks all contained variations of the word ‘Redskin’, which is widely regarded in modern society as being a racial and disparaging slur.

USPTO; TTAB; trademarks; UK IPO; trademark registration.