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The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office this morning canceled the Redskins' trademark registration, "calling the football team’s name 'disparaging to Native Americans,'" according to Theresa Vargas of the WASHINGTON POST. The case, which "appeared before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, was filed on behalf of five Native Americans." The ruling "pertains to six different trademarks associated with the team, each containing the word 'Redskin.'" The ruling "does not mean that the Redskins have to change the name of the team," but it "does affect whether the team and the NFL can make money from merchandising because it limits the team’s legal options when others use the logos and the name" on merchandise. Native Americans in '99 "won at this stage before," but the team and the NFL "won an appeal to U.S. District Court" in '09. The court at that time "did not rule on the merits of the case, however, but threw it out, saying that the plaintiffs didn’t have standing to file it." The team "is likely to make the same appeal this time" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 6/18). The ruling stipulates that the team "does not have to act" on it until the appeals process "is exhausted" (WASHINGTONTIMES.com, 6/18). USA TODAY's Erik Brady notes even if the club "loses on appeal, it can continue to use the name, as it has for more than 80 years." Owners of unregistered marks can "try to protect them through state statutes or common law" even without trademark protection (USATODAY.com, 6/18). ESPN's Roger Cossack noted the appeals process "could take a significantly long period of time." Cossack: "This kind of litigation is fraught with technicalities. This is stuff that is handled by statute. When you're talking about protecting someone's property who went ahead and trademarked it a number of years ago and now a court comes … (stating) that trademark should have never been granted because it's disparaging to Native Americans, you can see the problems in terms of appeals and litigation" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 6/18).
A LEAGUE ISSUE NOW: ESPN's Darren Rovell noted this is "probably the most substantive thing that has come along" regarding the name controversy. Rovell: "It's not a Native American group coming out with ads, it's not senators saying that they want a hearing or they want the name changed -- this is business." Rovell noted the ruling impacts not only the Redskins, but also the NFL, so this "can't really be now about Daniel Snyder and his will to not change the name." Rovell: "That could significantly put more pressure on Daniel Snyder. It's not just about him" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 6/18). ESPN's Skip Bayless said if the Redskins "start losing money from losing their trademarks, then everybody, the other 30 teams that share revenue, will lose money." The Cowboys have a separate licensing deal. Bayless: "All of the sudden, we put this in a whole different perspective because the NFL as a group will lose money because of what’s happening with the nickname.” ESPN's Stephen A. Smith: "When you have lawmakers on Capitol Hill and you have the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office now essentially officially against them, it’s the beginning steps of an ultimate change in the Redskins name” (“First Take,” ESPN, 6/18).
COULD NEW NAME RESULT IN NEW REVENUE? Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio said should the Redskins change their name, a potential new revenue stream could present itself, but it "all depends on how your fan base reacts to it." Florio: "You may have a bunch of fans who never buy anything with the new name and continue to keep their old jerseys and continue to refer to the team with the old name. Who knows which way this is going to go. Maybe folks will start hoarding Redskins gear now because they think the name is going to change, so they'll see an increase in revenue. Or maybe people will stop buying it because they think there's going to be a new name soon” (“The Dan Patrick Show,” 6/18).
The Brewers and FS Wisconsin have partnered on a campaign promoting C Jonathan Lucroy for the MLB All-Star Game, and it includes a "mudslinging video worthy of a political campaign," according to Lindsay Toler of the St. Louis RIVERFRONT TIMES. The ad calls out five-time All-Star Game starting C Yadier Molina and asks, "Do you want another St. Louis Cardinals catcher to star in an All-Star Game? Isn't there a better way?" Lucroy later "adds his support in true political fashion," stating that he approves the message. Toler writes the spot "is actually pretty hilarious" (RIVERFRONTTIMES.com, 6/18). In Cincinnati, Bob Goldschmidt writes in politics, it is sometimes "necessary to support a politician simply because you don't want the other candidate to win." For Reds fans, the "same principle applies to catchers and the All-Star Game." The only thing missing in the video "is an out-of-context quote from Molina" (CINCINNATI.com, 6/18). MLB Network’s Chris Rose said, “The only thing that will make it funnier -- if St. Louis comes back with a pro-Molina and rips on Lucroy” (“Intentional Talk,” MLB Network, 6/17). But in Illinois, Scott Wuerz writes the Brewers have taken All-Star Game ballot "shenanigans to an all-time low." Wuerz: "I realize it's supposed to be tongue-in-cheek. But, at the same time, the move to politicize All-Star balloting is the lowest blow yet in the unfortunate practice of teams trying to stuff the ballot with their players' names." It is "one thing to promote your players, but another thing entirely to tear down opposing players" (BELLEVILLE NEWS-DEMOCRAT, 6/18). Molina leads through the latest round of balloting with 2,003,557 votes, while Lucroy is third with 1,138,212 votes (THE DAILY).
The Pistons’ Grand Rapids D-League affiliate yesterday announced that "Drive" will be the team's name, after an “online vote of close to 5,100” participants, according to Peter Wallner of MLIVE.com. Drive President Steve Jbara said, “I think it’s a great name and it has a great tie into our parent club, the Pistons. But it also speaks to the community … and that was one of the things that stood out because of the economy and the growth over here. Now you can tailor the Drive to reflect that as well as the double meaning with drive to the hoop in the basketball sense. So we think we can do some promotional and merchandising stuff to bring it all together.” Jbara said that of the four finalists, Drive “received 78 percent of the vote.” He added that Chairmen, Blue Racers and Horse Power finished “second through fourth in online voting from May 1-10.” Jbara said that the team’s logo was “designed by [a] creative team” with the Pistons. With a name in place, the next event will be an “open house” July 17 at the team's home arena, the DeltaPlex in Walker, Mich. Jbara said that the Pistons have “provided the Drive with a new basketball court, with new hoops, lightning and courtside seats” (MLIVE.com, 6/17). Pistons President of Basketball Operations and coach Stan Van Gundy, when asked about the Drive's proximity to the Pistons' Auburn Hills HQ, said, “Your own D-League team is one thing, but your own D-League team 2 hours away is a whole other deal. We’re going to have times this year where the guy can practice with us in the morning, get in the car and go play a D-League game at night” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 6/15).
Six-year-old George Gring, who was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma last year, “got to live out his dream” yesterday by “becoming a Panther for a day and sharing the field with his idol,” QB Cam Newton, according to Curry Shoff of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. Gring and Newton “walked into practice together wearing matching gold cleats and spent time together stretching and tossing the football.” Gring signed a one-day contract with Panthers GM Dave Gettleman and his signing bonus was a “massive jar of Kit Kat candy bars and Skittles.” He spent the afternoon “watching practice, throwing the ball with players, attending film sessions with coaches, and hanging out” with Newton. Gring will return to Charlotte on Aug. 17, where he will “serve as the Panthers’ ‘Keep Pounding’ pregame drummer” against the Chiefs (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 6/18). Gring's day with the Panthers "will be a part of a 'My Wish' television series on ESPN in July" (ESPN.com, 6/17).
The Mets will hold their annual fan sleepover at Citi Field on July 19, but WFAN-AM's Mike Francesa yesterday decried the promotion, calling the $200 cost for tickets "highway robbery." Fans during the event will watch that night's Mets-Padres game at Petco Park from the Citi Field outfield, causing Francesa to say, "The Mets can't get you there for a game when they're there. They think they can get you there for a game when they're not there?" He asked, "What is the premise? You're going to draw people when you're not there? Who thought of this one? We can't get anybody there when the Mets are here, so when they're 3,000 miles away, we're going to get you to sleep on the grass and meet Mr. Met and you're going to be happy and you're going to pay us. Boy, oh boy." The team drew 300 fans for last year's sleepover, but Francesa said, "I wouldn't even put that in print that they only drew 300 people. Imagine opening your doors at Citi Field and drawing 300 for anything. ... That's embarrassing." Fans attending the event receive a ticket to the Mets' Sept. 28 regular-season home finale against the Astros. That fact prompted Francesa to say, "You might as well give those away, because who's going to go see the Mets and the Astros during the football season on the last day of the season?" He continued, "Everybody receives a complimentary pillow. Well, you should because you got fleeced. You've got to be kidding me. Listen, if you're dumb enough to do that for $200, you need a pillow. You need a pillow and a shrink" ("Mike Francesa," WFAN-AM, 6/17). The Mets could not be reached for comment by deadline (THE DAILY).
In Philadelphia, Matt Gelb reports Phillies President & CEO Dave Montgomery has given GM Ruben Amaro Jr. a "vote of confidence" despite the team's 31-38 record heading into today's game against the Braves. Amaro has "drawn criticism for delaying a rebuilding process as the Phillies struggle for the third consecutive season with an older roster.” He also has “often alluded to his tenuous job status” despite being under contract through ‘15. Meanwhile, Montgomery said that he “won't assume a larger role in baseball matters this July,” estimating that 80% of his time is “spent on the franchise's business operations" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 6/18).
IT'S HARD TO BE A SAINT IN THE CITY: In Minneapolis, Nick Halter reported Twins President Dave St. Peter and independent St. Paul Saints GM Derek Sharrer yesterday “expressed interest" in a minor league partnership, but "cautioned that it would be difficult to arrange.” Sharrer said, "It is a lot of moving parts." St. Peter “discussed the possibility" of the Saints becoming the Twins' Single-A affiliate but noted the team has a deal with the Midwest League Cedar Rapids Kernels through ‘16. He believed that the Twins will “discuss the idea with the Saints when the Kernels contract is up” (BIZJOURNALS.com, 6/17).
PARTY LIKE IT'S 1993: ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick noted the Blue Jays, who have not made the postseason in 20 years, have “sent a jolt of optimism through the populace when they went on a 25-7 run through early June.” Blue Jays 1B Adam Lind said, “There's definitely a buzz up there right now. You see a lot of people in jerseys and T-shirts and hats walking around town. They want to believe, but they're still trying to figure out if they should. Especially after last year, when everybody was emotionally invested and we had the ultimate meltdown" (ESPN.com, 6/17).
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE: The Royals took over first place in the AL Central last night, the latest point in the season the team has topped the standings since '03. MLB Network’s Mark DeRosa said of Royals GM Dayton Moore, "He’s stayed the path with (manager) Ned Yost. They’ve had this vision, they’ve trusted in these young players. It’s time for these young players to step up” (“MLB Tonight,” MLB Network, 6/17).