News / Sports / NFL

Washington Redskins Trademark Case: Redskins Have Trademark Revoked Because It Is Racist [PHOTO]

By Andrew Urban | June 18, 2014 05:33 PM EDT

In an incredibly rare case the U.S. Patent Office, all six trademarks held by the Washington Redskins have been revoked for, " being disparaging to Native Americans." The decision was made because of a federal law that mandates no disparaging or offensive language can be used in a patent or trademark. 

Native American advocacy groups have been trying to get the named changed for years, but the owner of the Washington Redskins, Daniel Snyder, had steadfastly refused to do so. The issue was the subject of a similar case before, and struck down once before, in a case that started in 1992. In 1999 the case was dismissed on a technicality, which has since been fixed.

"The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board agreed with our clients that the team's name and trademarks disparage Native Americans. The Board ruled that the Trademark Office should never have registered these trademarks in the first place," Jesse Witten, the plaintiff's attorney, said in a statement. "We presented a wide variety of evidence - including dictionary definitions and other reference works, newspaper clippings, movie clips, scholarly articles, expert linguist testimony, and evidence of the historic opposition by Native American groups - to demonstrate that the word 'redskin' is an ethnic slur."

"I am extremely happy that the [Board] ruled in our favor," Blackhorse said in a statement. "It is a great victory for Native Americans and for all Americans. We filed our petition eight years ago and it has been a tough battle ever since. I hope this ruling brings us a step closer to that inevitable day when the name of the Washington football team will be changed. The team's name is racist and derogatory. I've said it before and I will say it again - if people wouldn't dare call a Native American a 'redskin' because they know it is offensive, how can an NFL football team have this name?"

The Washington Redskins can still appeal the case in federal court, and most certainly will try to do so. The team will be able to keep the trademark until such a time as the case is settled. Even if the decision does go through, the Washington Redskins can still use their logo, but any one else can also make and sell the team's merchandise. While the team's owner may still attempt to keep their logo, but the profit sharing model by the NFL means that he will be under huge pressure from other teams to change the name. 

Tagged :  Washington Redskins, Trademark, case


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