RWP was born in Manchester, in the north of England, in the late 1950s, so he is very old. He really liked the north of England, which by 1965 was hip and had three TV channels, and where he went to a coed school. His parents, for reasons best known to themselves, then yanked him away, to Belfast and then Dublin, which had one TV channel that started up at 6 pm with the Angelus (Catholic call to prayer). He also had to go to an all boys school, where he realized he really missed girls. This probably let him focus on schoolwork, though, and at age 19, after he had finished college, he set off for America, where he still resides. He has a bachelors degree in biochemistry and a Ph.D. from Harvard in biophysics, and has lived also in Mainz, Germany, Setauket NY, and Richland WA. He currently divides his time between Nebraska, Rosslyn VA, and Florida.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Trademark cancellation request.

To: US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board
From: Gerard S. Harbison
Re: Request for revocation of trademark serial number 73305529, to University of Notre Dame
Date: June 18, 2014.

It has come to my attention that the University of Notre Dame, Indiana 46556, was granted a trademark on March 8, 1983, for the figure depicted below. As a dual citizen of the United States and the Republic of Ireland, I request cancellation of the trademark registration, per section 2 of the Trademark Act, 15 USC §1052, for the reason that it is grossly disparaging of citizens of the Republic of Ireland as well as Americans of Irish heritage.

The figure is classed ( inter alia) as a human engaged in sport, and is apparently associated with the nickname Fighting Irish, which the above institution has appropriated (without official sanction) for several of its sporting teams. The figure is a grotesque representation of a demeaning Irish stereotype, being misshapen; dwarfish; balding; with s garish shamrock-bedecked hat; a scowling expression; a deformed skull; a tiny emaciated body; huge feet (or badly fitting shoes); and a ridiculous beard. His (its?) fists are raised in a pugilistic attitude.

Note that Ireland is a peaceful nation which, unlike the United States, has fought no foreign wars since its independence, is officially neutral, and has contributed continuously to United Nations peacekeeping missions since 1958 (including no fewer than 13 current missions). Ireland has 10% of the per capita violent crime rate of the United States. The stereotype is therefore not only disparaging; it is grossly erroneous.

In addition, please note that the University of Notre Dame has no legitimate association with Ireland or the Irish. It was founded and is still run by a French religious order. It has been suggested that the nickname 'Irish' was originally an ethnic slur based on a perceived association between Irish and Roman Catholic. The name and the depiction are therefore offensive both in origin as well as current application. I fully understand that had they called themselves the 'Fighting French' the result would have been universal mockery. Still, that is no excuse.

I have previously complained to the President of Notre Dame about their use of the slur and the offensive depiction. I received only a form letter in reply. I therefore request that the US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board review this and similar trademarks held by Notre Dame and cancel those which are clearly ethnically offensive.

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