None of their business? No, it is their business. That’s what they say:
The heated debate over the Washington Redskins name has now moved beyond living rooms and corporate offices to the U.S. government itself, with one agency making an unequivocal ruling that the term “Redskins” is offensive slang.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected an application to trademark the name “Redskins Hog Rind,” writing that the term “Redskins” is “a derogatory slang term that refers to, and is considered offensive by, American Indians.”
They haven’t applied the reasoning to the football team. Yet:
To determine what crosses the line, the agency looks at two questions: 1) the term’s likely meaning and use in the product’s context and 2) whether the phrase disparages a specific group of people.
Thus, many words have been approved in some circumstances and rejected in others.
The term “squaw,” for example, was ruled offensive when used for clothing and general retail but was approved for use with skiing equipment associated with “Squaw Valley.” And the PTO rejected the use of “Khoran” for a brand of alcohol, something that the Islamic holy book, the Quran, considers sinful. Actor Damon Wayans’ application for a clothing line called “Nigga” was rejected, as have been several applications to use even the phrase “the N word.” But a group protesting the phrase was allowed to trademark “Abolish the ‘N’ word.”
Likewise, the agency has permitted the term “redskin” when applied to potatoes or when directly applied to the football team, as in “The Redskins Broadcast Network.”
This is ripe for a study, submitting various trademark applications that are identical except for ideology. If only we could get, er, government funding for such a study! (Because everyone knows you need government money to study anything.) Oh, government doesn’t want to pay for that? Never mind then.