Washington Law Review


Cameron Smith


In Harjo v. Pro-Football Inc., the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board cancelled the federally registered trademarks THE WASHINGTON REDSKINS, REDSKINS, and REDSKINETIES after finding them to be disparaging matter under section 2(a) of the Lanham Act. Pro-Football has appealed the Board's decision to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. This Note argues that Harjo's adoption of the "substantial composite" standard for analyzing disparaging trademarks potentially ignores the majority of the implicated group members' viewpoints and promotes section 2(a) trademark cancellations. In addition, the liberal standing requirements for opposition and cancellation proceedings combined with Harlo's disparagement doctrine impermissibly conflict with the protections afforded commercial speech and the policies underlying federal trademark regulation. Pro-Football Inc. v. Harjo presents the Article III system with an appropriate opportunity to correct the Board's expansive disparagement doctrine. This correction could persuade Congress to remedy the imbalance between the protections afforded intellectual property owners in Article III proceedings and those provided in section 2(a) oppositions and cancellations before the Board.

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