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U.S. patent office cancels trademark of NFL’s Redskins

Posted June. 20, 2014 04:26,   


A U.S. federal government ruled that the name and trademark of the Washington Redskins of the National Football League in the U.S., which was founded in 1933, constitutes defamation of American Indians.

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board under the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office said on Wednesday it cancels the Redskins’ six trademark registrations registered with the Federal Trademark Act in 1967 to 1990, calling the word Redskins is a ‘term equivalent of’ disparaging Indians in a vote of two for and one against.

The term ‘redskins,’ which derives from Native Indians having red skins, was used to emphasize Indians’ belligerence and disparage them, and Americans generally avoid using it. Indian organizations sought to change the team’s name since long ago, and President Barack Obama, 50 Senators and some former players of the team joined the campaign.

The team immediately protested the decision. Daniel Schneider, the owner of the team, said, “I have no intention to change the team’s name that has been kept for more than 80 years.” Bruce Allen, president of the team, also clarified his determination to keep the team’s name. An attorney for the team said “It will immediately seek appeal.”

If the ruling is upheld by the court, anyone can freely sell products with the logo and name of the Redskins team. The team, which earns massive profit through the trademark, is poised to be dealt with a major economic blow.

Amanda Blackhorse, the plaintiff who helped win the latest ruling, said in a statement, “I am very pleased,” adding, “It is victory of American Indians and all Americans.” He said, “The team’s name is racially discriminatory and disparaging,” adding, “The team will end up changing its name.”

It is a second legal battle staged by American Indians to change the team’s name. They made the first appeal in 1992, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office accepted the appeal in 1999. However, the team immediately sought appeal against the ruling, and the court ruled in favor of the team in 2003. Five people, including Blackhorse, started a new campaign for a new appeal in 2006, before the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to review the case.