An announcement by the the United States Patent and Trademark Office has put the Washington Redskins opening season into a spin by the cancellation of their trademark “Redskins” as it is considered to be “Disparaging to Native Americans.”
There were five points that the Board based their 2 – 1 ruling on.
1) There were Six uses of the “Redskin” trademark that should be cancelled that was marked by the team of 1967 through 1990. The teams logo is also trademarked but not affected at this time.
2) If the decisions stands, the team can continue to use the name but, would lose the ability to protect the financial interest that it is connected to .
3) The Redskins has appealed and the cancellations for the trademark is on hold until the matter makes its way through the court which could take years.
4) This is the second time this had been in the courts. A similar ruling from 1999 was overturned in 2003 on a technicality.
5) If the Redskins were to lose the rights, there are many questions which will be whether state and common laws would allow them to retain their exclusivity of use. The law is really unclear because this is brand new terrority.
It 1999, a panel ruled to cancel the trademarks after several disagreements with Native American groups. The decision was later overturned on a technicality after the court decided that the plaintiffs were too old. It was recommended that they should have filed their complaint soon after the Redskins registered their nickname in 1967.
Evidence in this case is identical to the case from several years ago and they expect that the same outcome will be reached.
A letter signed by 49 Democrat Senators has been published encouraging a name change. It is possible that if the team and the league refused to make any moves for a change, the Senate has many options including ridding the league of its tax exempt status.
The team is affected by this but is doing their best to keep their focus on the job at hand, getting ready for the season which opens in August. Officials at the NFL could not be reached for a comment at this time.
Miami University in Ohio has tweeted the Redskins offering help to sort out a new name. They were once also listed as the Miami Redskins.