The NFL has plenty of problems, from a spate of domestic violence (and the troubling case of Greg Hardy) to the recent revelation that the league has been accepting money from the U.S. armed forces for all those nice “salute to the troops” moments during games. Classy.
Back in July, a federal judge upheld a decision by the U.S. Patent Office to cancel the Washington Redskins’ federal trademark registrations. Citing the Lanham Act, which states names that “may disparage” are not eligible for federal trademark protection, U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee agreed with the ruling of the federal Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, saying in his ruling that Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defined the term “redskin” for Native Americans as “often contemptuous” all the way back in 1898, “seventy years prior to the registration of the first Redskins Mark.”
Last Friday, the team appealed by listing a number of names it deemed offensive that the government had approved.
Cue Oliver, who ripped the terribly named team a new one on Sunday’s edition of his stellar HBO program, Last Week Tonight.
“In a bid to show the patent office’s double standards, the Washington Redskins pointed in their legal brief to approved trademarks such as Slutseeker dating services, Capitalism Sucks Donkey Balls, and Hot Octopuss anti-premature ejaculation creams. Also cited: Edible Crotchless Gummy Panties, Dick Balls, and Klitoris with a ‘K,’” he said.
Oh, wait, there’s more. “I could go on, so I will. They also pointed to MILF Weed, Make Your Own Dildo, and Laughing My Vagina Off.”“I could stop—but I won’t—because they also mentioned Party With Sluts, Anal Fantasy Collection, and Jizz Underwear.”The Redskins have maintained that more than 3 million federal trademarks have been issued, and not one of them has ever been canceled for being “offensive”—which didn’t fly with Oliver.
“That might be a fair point, although for the record, that means the Redskins’ moral defense is now essentially, ‘Hey, our name is no worse than that of’—and again, this is another real trademark cited in their case—‘the Shank the Bitch board game,’” said Oliver.He continued: “Maybe the most obnoxious part of the Redskins’ 82-page appeal is when they argued, ‘Just about everything is potentially disparaging to someone…’ because a) no it isn’t; and b) that’s not the fucking point! The word ‘Redskins’ isn’t ‘potentially disparaging to someone,’ it is currently disparaging to specific individuals.”
Oliver then aimed his ire at Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who’s argued repeatedly that the name “Washington Redskins” is meant to “honor” Native Americans, and not disparage them.“Look, if I may talk to Redskins owner Dan Snyder for a moment: Intending to honor something is a lot different from actually honoring it,” said Oliver. “Although since you seem to feel differently, let me now suggest that everyone ‘honor’ Dan Snyder by renaming their fantasy football teams Dan Snyder Is a Thin-Skinned Racist Whose Sunglasses Look Like Something a Tacky Pedophile Might Settle For.”“And hey, Dan, don’t get upset! Everything is potentially disparaging to somebody.”