Judge: Cancel Trademark Registrations for Redskins

Says NFL team name is offensive to Native Americans
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2015 12:36 PM CDT
Judge: Cancel Trademark Registrations for Redskins
In this Aug. 28, 2009, file photo, the Washington Redskins logo is seen on the field before the start of a preseason NFL football game in Landover, Md.   (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

Matthew McConaughey doesn't think there's anything wrong with the Washington Redskins' name or logo, but many others, including a federal judge, disagree. Judge Gerald Bruce Lee put out a 70-page ruling today that orders the US Patent and Trademark Office to cancel all registrations for the NFL team's trademark, noting the moniker is offensive to Native Americans, the AP reports. The team had sued for the right to trademark it after the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board decided last year the name didn't qualify for federal trademark status under the Lanham Act, which nixes protection for names that "may disparage" a certain population, per the Washington Post. The team can still use the name and seek protection under state trademark laws—and the cancellation won't happen until any appeals process has run its course, the Post notes—but the ruling is a major blow for the team and a victory for Native American advocates who've fought the name for years.

The team tried to build its argument around the fact that it believed the Lanham Act violated its First Amendment rights, that there wasn't proof of enough Native Americans hating the name, and, according to court documents, that patent officials had stripped them of a lucrative commodity "without just compensation" after it had dumped millions of dollars into the trademark, the paper notes. Meanwhile, those who've long protested the name are celebrating. "This is a huge victory," an attorney for the activists who initially brought the issue before the patent board tells the Post. He concedes, though, that the fight probably isn't over, adding, "The team has been fighting this case so hard and leaving no stone unturned and scorching every square inch of earth that it's hard to imagine they will not appeal." (Here are some less-racist alternatives for the team that bloggers came up with a few years back.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.