Several judges with the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office revoked the Washington Redskins trademark on June 18, labeling it "disparaging."
The U.S. Trademark and Patent Office revoked the Washington Redskins trademark on June 18.
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Judges who revoked the trademark labeled it as "disparaging," per The Washington Post's Andrea Noble:
"A panel of judges with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Wendesday canceled what they called 'disparaging' trademarks associated with the Washington Redskins for the second time in 15 years amid mounting political pressure on the team to change its name.
"'We decide, based on the evidence properly before us, that these registrations must be canceled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered,' the judges wrote in an 81-page ruling.
"The action, which would impact six different trademarks, does not have any immediate effect, nor does it bar the team from using the nickname. It allows for federal court review of the decision, and it stipulates the team does not have to act on the ruling until the appeals are exhausted -- a process likely to take years.
"Team owner Daniel Snyder declined to comment on the development after Wednesday's minicamp practice at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Virginia. Bob Raskopf, trademark attorney for the team, said in a statement that the team would appeal the decision."
NFL vice president of corporate communications Brian McCarthy told Noble in an email that the league had no comment on the matter.
However, the Redskins fired back at the ruling by way of a press release with a statement from team trademark attorney Bob Raskopf:
"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 and right to use the Redskins name and logo.
"We are confident we will prevail once again, and that the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board's divided ruling will be overturned on appeal. This case is no different than an earlier case, where the Board cancelled the Redskins' trademark registrations, and where a federal district court disagred and reversed the Board.
"As today's dissenting opinion correctly states, 'the same evidence previously found insufficient to support cancellation here 'remains insufficient' and does not support cancellation.
"This ruling -- which of course we will appeal -- simply addresses the team's federal trademark registrations, and the team will continue to own and be able to protect its marks without the registrations. The registrations will remain effective while the case is on appeal."
In spite of this, ESPN's Darren Rovell says Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash, "expects Wednesday's ruling to be upheld on appeal."
Cantwell goes on to explain in Rovell's report:
"'This puts a big dent in their business model of trying to gain revenue from a disparaging term of slur,' she said. 'I find it very unlikely that someone is going to overrule the patent office on this. This is a huge decision by a federal agency.'
"Cantwell, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, wrote a letter signed by 49 Democratic Senators last month that encouraged a name change. She said that if the Redskins and the league refuse to change the name, there are many options available for the Senate, including perhaps ridding the league of its tax-exempt status.
"Reid also applauded the decision.
"'Daniel Snyder may be the last person in the world to realize this, but it's just a matter of time until he is forced to do the right thing and change the name,' said Reid, who has said previously he will not Redskins home games until the team changes its name."
Noble also mentions the Redskins trademark history in court dates back to 2006, when five American Indians filed a complaint:
"The legal challenge against the Redskins was brought in 2006 by five American Indians who filed a complaint with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board on the grounds that laws prohibit 'registration of marks that may disparage persons or bring them into contempt or disprepute.'
"The ruling, which looked in detail at the history of the team's name and logo and the connotations of the word 'redskins,' impacts the team's name and the name of the cheerleader squad, the Redskinettes, as well as a series of stylized logos registered between 1967 and 1990.
"The ruling was affirmed 2-1 by a three-judge panel and written by Administrative Trademark Judge Karen Kuhlke. Also on the panel were Judge Peter W. Cataldo and Judge Marc A. Bergsman. All three judges were appointed during the administration of former President George W. Bush."
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