Washington Redskins Ordered To Cancel Trademark Registration

Posted: Jul 9 2015, 12:59am CDT | by , in News | Latest Sports News


Washington Redskins Ordered to Cancel Trademark Registration
Photo Credit: Getty Images
  • A federal judge ordered the Washington Redskins to cancel their federal trademark registrations on July 8.

A federal judge ordered the Washington Redskins to cancel their federal trademark registrations on July 8. However, they can still use the "Redskins" nickname.

A federal judge has ordered the Washington Redskins to cancel their federal trademark registration on July 8.

A July 8 ESPN update says the ruling by Judge Gerald Bruce Lee does not prohibit the Redskins from using that name. In fact, Washington can still sue for copyright infringement. 

However, that could prove to be difficult without the necessary legal protection, per ESPN. 

Nonetheless, Redskins team president Bruce Allen told ESPN on Wednesday the team will appeal:

"I am surprised by the judge's decision to prevent us from presenting our evidence in an open trial. We look forward to winning on appeal after a fair and impartial review of the case. We are convinced that we will win because the facts and the law are on the side of our franchise that has proudly used the name 'Redskins' for more than 80 years."

Oneida Indian Nation representative Ray Halbritter issued a statement of his own in response to Allen's, per ESPN:

"If something happening decades ago was reason alone to continue doing it, then America would still have Jim Crow laws and Confederate flags would still be flying on top of state capitol buildings. 

"Bruce Allen's comments perfectly illustrate why the NFL has a crisis on its hands: at a time when America is demanding an end to outdated symbols of bigotry, one of the league's teams insists on continuing to promote, market and profit off an offensive and racist symbol.

"The NFL must take action against an owner and his team, which have clearly lost control of themselves to the point where they are going to court to continue slurring people of color."

Lee's ruling follows the Trademark Trial and Appeal board's 2-to-1 vote against use of the team's nickname last year because of its offensive nature to native Americans, per The Washington Post's Ian Shapira. 

Because of the appeal board's vote, the "Redskins" nickname cannot qualify for trademark protection under the Lanham Act, which prohibits protection for names that "may disparage" or result in people's oppostion to them, per Shapira. 

The Redskins tried to reverse the appeal board's ruling by suing five Native American activists who are strongly against the use of the nickname. One of those activists is Amanda Blackhorse, who organizes protests against the Redskins monicker outside NFL stadiums across the country per The Washington Post. 

At the time, the Redskins also said the Lanham Act is in conflict with its First Amendment rights. Furthermore, they claimed Blackhorse didn't have ample evidence to prove Native Americans were against their nickname when they registered their trademarks in 1967, 1974, 1978 and 1990, per Shapira. 

However, the appeal board ruled in Blackhorse's favor, per The Washington Post. 

For her part, Blackhorse commented on Lee's ruling on Wednesday, telling Shapira it is all about "humanizing" Native Americans like her:

"This case is about humanizing the indigenous identity. I have asked this many times before and have never heard a sensible answer -- 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?"

Lee turned down the Redskins' claim their nickname is not offensive to the majority of Native Americans when they received the trademarks between 1967 and 1990. 

Shapira stresses Lee even referred to Webster's Collegiate Dictionary which defines "Redskin" as "often contemptuous" in 1898. This defiintion came almost 70 years before the team's first trademark was approved in 1967.

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder told The Washington Post he will never change his team's name. 

Lee's full 70-page ruling on the Redskins trademark registration can be read here

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The Author

Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.




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