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Name change? Washington Redskins lose trademark case

redskins-helmetThe Washington Redskins don’t have to change their name, but they do face losing the trademark to the name Redskins. A 2-1 decision by the United States Patent and Trademark Office Trademark Trial and Appeal Board has canceled the team’s trademarks on the name Redskins, saying the term is “disparaging to Native Americans.”

An attorney for the team promised an appeal and said he is confident that the ruling will be overturned. A similar ruling in 1999 was eventually overturned by a federal judge on a technicality.

“We’ve seen this story before. And just like last time, today’s ruling will have no effect at all on the team’s ownership of and right to use the Redskins name and logo,” said Bob Raskopf, a trademark attorney for the Washington Redskins.

The majority opinion said the petitioners in the current case, which was launched in 2006, “have found a preponderance of evidence that a substantial amount of Native Americans found the term Redskins to be disparaging when used in connection with professional football.”

“While this may reveal differing opinions with the community, it does not negate the opinions of those who find it disparaging,” the ruling stated.

The statement from Raskopf on behalf of the Redskins heavily cited the dissenting opinion, which said “the same evidence previously found insufficient to support cancellation” here “remains insufficient” and does not support cancellation.

“We are confident we will prevail once again, and that the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s divided ruling will be overturned on appeal,” Raskopf said. “This case is no different than an earlier case, where the Board cancelled the Redskins’ trademark registrations, and where a federal district court disagreed and reversed the Board.”

The team will continue to own and be able to protect its marks without the registrations, Raskopf said.

The registrations will remain effective while the case is on appeal.


augusta free press
augusta free press