The Washington Post reports that the Supreme Court has declined to take up the trademark case about Washington Redskins that’s been kicking around through the courts for no less than 17 years now. That puts an end to the case as it’s currently filed, but the plantiffs have indicated they have a backup plan. I’d bet they put it in motion before the end of the year, if not the end of the week.
The basic assertion of the case is that the Washington Redskins’ name and imagery is offensive, but that’s not what the courts have been wrangling over for these last few years. The issue at hand – which is what the Supremes declined to examine – is whether too much time has gone by for this challenge to be valid. This Washington Times article from May does a good job of summarizing the points, as well as the backup plan that we’ll surely see brought into play, but it does omit one important fact.
Namely that there’s nothing explicit or settled in trademark law that provides a firm time limit for an offensiveness challenge. If I were to role-play a Supreme Court justice I might have declined to take up this current challenge in order to wait for a more perfect test case example. Like, say, the same case by someone who filed on the day they turn 18.
We haven’t heard the last of this.