Ann Rodriguez is available to discuss the ruling and the ramifications it could have
Three years ago, the United States Patent and Trademark Office canceled six federal
trademarks belonging to the Washington Redskins, saying the trademarks violate rules
that prevent trademarks from disparaging individuals or groups.
On Monday, the Supreme Court struck down part of the federal law that denies trademark
protection of terms that disparage persons living or dead. The ruling came from a
case filed by the band “The Slants,” founded by Asian-American musician Simon Tam,
who wanted to take back the term that has been used as an insult by registering the
band’s name with the trademark office.
Texas Tech expert Ann Rodriguez, an associate professor of business law in the Texas
Tech University Jerry S. Rawls College of Business, is available to discuss the ruling and the ramifications it could have going forward,
including those involving the football team in Washington, D.C.
The subjective nature of the federal trademark protection process to begin with brings
into play the contrast between what is legal and what is ethical.
The considerations involved really do cut to the core of First Amendment free speech
protection and speech content consideration.
The ruling opens the door for more similar trademark applications, which is another
slippery slope, and certainly for the reconsideration of past denials, like that of
the Washington Redskins
“Today's ruling immediately brought to mind something that I tell my business law
students often, and that is that the law does not codify ethics. In other words, what
is legal, and what is generally thought to be ethical, are, really, two different
things. The job of the law is not necessarily to say what is ‘right’ in any given
situation. That is more often a subjective decision for individuals and organizations
to determine on their own.”
“Particularly, the debate around the Washington Redskins ruling ought to remind us
that the law and business are often intimately linked. If the National Football League
itself wanted the Redskins to change the mascot, then it almost certainly could force
such a change, as did the NCAA in many instances since 2005, as a member organization
having the power to do so. The NFL issues are even more tied to business decisions
given its profit sharing among member organizations. For the Washington Redskins,
it is not merely a legal or free expression issue, but a business one as well with
potentially millions of dollars at stake, regardless of the stance taken.”
The college has a full-time teaching staff of roughly 100 in seven academic areas:
accounting; energy, economics and law; finance; health organization management; information
systems and quantitative sciences; management; and marketing.
Dedicated to connecting students, alumni and employers, the Career Management Center assists Rawls College students with their transition to the world-of-work, and supplies
prospective employers with top-notch candidates, ready to make an immediate contribution.