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U.S. Patent Office Strips Washington Redskins of Six Federal Trademarks for 'Disparaging' Name


The U.S. Patent office has canceled six federal trademark registrations for the Washington Redskins, Think Progress reports:

SnyderThe U.S. PTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board issued a ruling in the case, brought against the team by plaintiff Amanda Blackhorse, Wednesday morning.

“We decide, based on the evidence properly before us, that these registrations must be cancelled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered,” the board wrote in its opinion, “>which is here. A brief explanation of how the Board reached its decision is here.

“The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board agreed with our clients that the team’s name and trademarks disparage Native Americans. The Board ruled that the Trademark Office should never have registered these trademarks in the first place,” Jesse Witten, the plaintiffs’ lead attorney, said in a press release. “We presented a wide variety of evidence – including dictionary definitions and other reference works, newspaper clippings, movie clips, scholarly articles, expert linguist testimony, and evidence of the historic opposition by Native American groups – to demonstrate that the word ‘redskin’ is an ethnic slur.”

On last weekend's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Oliver blasted Redskins' owner Dan Snyder, a staunch defender of the name, on his show.


The team says it will appeal the ruling.

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  1. If it was disparaging, why would they give the name to the team?

    Posted by: Eugene | Jun 18, 2014 1:08:47 PM

  2. White man to dumb to realize this?

    Posted by: terryp | Jun 18, 2014 1:12:52 PM

  3. It's embarrassing that they still have that name.

    Posted by: Mikey M | Jun 18, 2014 1:20:48 PM

  4. It seems wrong that they can revoke a trademark of such long standing.

    Posted by: BobN | Jun 18, 2014 1:41:19 PM

  5. "It seems wrong that they can end slavery after such long standing. "

    BOBN, are you serious? That is such a dumb argument.

    Posted by: pablo | Jun 18, 2014 1:44:25 PM

  6. Can someone please explain how the word redskin is racist? You apply a racist meaning to the word. My redskin potatoes are NOT racist is any way.

    Posted by: Sam The Man | Jun 18, 2014 2:05:52 PM

  7. Sam, the team is applying a racist meaning to the word. Take a look at their logo. The name clearly does not refer to a potato. If the name was Blackskins with a logo depicting an African-American or Yellowskins with a logo depicting an Asian person, the name would have been gone decades ago.

    Posted by: Jere | Jun 18, 2014 2:08:58 PM

  8. It's embarrassing that Harry Reid is on the floor of Congress talking about the Redskins when how many DC residents don't have representation in Congress? How much press has a football teams name gotten versus the amount of press DC statehood gets? That is what is embarrassing.

    Posted by: Rick | Jun 18, 2014 2:13:27 PM

  9. "It seems wrong that they can revoke a trademark of such long standing."

    So they give them something, and now they're taking it back. I know there's a name for people who do that, but I'm drawing a blank.

    Posted by: crispy | Jun 18, 2014 2:27:46 PM

  10. havent you ever seen a western - when cowboys would refer to the Indians in a BAD way as Redskins.....????

    Posted by: disgusted american | Jun 18, 2014 3:44:40 PM

  11. How about changing the name from Redskins to Pigskins?

    Posted by: gr8guyca | Jun 18, 2014 3:49:13 PM

  12. The ruling means the team logo is license-free now. Anyone can use it on t-shirts, bumper stickers, etc. without having to pay the team or the NFL. Now, this is a major profit center for the NFL, so the team probably will change their logo, but they aren't banned from using it.

    Posted by: anon | Jun 18, 2014 3:49:59 PM

  13. When the federal government decides, at the behest of the PC crowd, to strip a privately held company of it's copyright protections, that is over reaching. If we remove every logo or name from every product that offended someone we'd be left without many products.

    Posted by: I wont grow up | Jun 18, 2014 4:01:10 PM

  14. This will be overturned thank g-d by the courts just like they did before. Its a name get over it.

    Posted by: Lee | Jun 18, 2014 4:13:28 PM

  15. Here is hoping they appeal and it gets overturned by a federal court like has happened in the past before. Who knew that there is a legal standard of political correctness.

    Posted by: Perry | Jun 18, 2014 4:41:22 PM

  16. I don't know about the prior case, or about the Trademark rules, per se, but I'm assuming - based on the ruling - you can't trademark the name "Dallas Faggots" because there's likely a rule that slurs cannot be trademarked. I can't imagine so much evidence would be presented that "redkins" was a slur if that weren't a disqualifying factor.

    Posted by: Zlick | Jun 18, 2014 6:19:42 PM

  17. To add in some history. The other case was only overturned on a technicality. The court did not even get to the merits of the case because they ruled that the plantiffs had forgone the necessary amount of time to file an appeal and therefore, couldn't. This time around, the plantiffs are individuals who just turned 18 and therefore, could not have sued earlier. This case will be ruled on the merits and more than likely the name with get changed.

    Posted by: CK | Jun 18, 2014 8:35:19 PM

  18. This is the Obama administration pandering to a small group of extremist. It affords them an opportunity to placate the loony fat left of the Democratic party. It's retarded. And yes, I know some are 'offended' by the word retarded. Republican often have to do similar silly things to placate the small but vocal loony far right.

    There's nothing wrong or insulting about the name, Indian mascot/logo (every real 'native american' I've met call themselves Indians and don't have a problem with it), anymore than a leprecuen caricature used by the Celtics and Notre Dame is insulting to Irish (or the word paddy wagon). The team would not name themselves after somebody or thing they don't resepect.People need to grow the frig up.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jun 18, 2014 9:30:56 PM

  19. I think a whole lot of people are in for some disappointment. Define "disparaging" , you can't because it changes from person to person. Some of you get your panties in a knot when someone says "homosexual" rather than "gay" or "bisexual"... I don't. If redskin is inherently disparaging, then you have to prove that it has been used commonly in that fashion, and it simply hasn't. By any measure, inoffensive use of "redskin" far out numbers and disparaging use.

    Posted by: Enchantra | Jun 18, 2014 9:48:33 PM

  20. @ RatBastard, the reason you hear"indian" is because the various aboriginal nations didn't have a collective, unified description for themselves. 'They' were and are Wampanog, or Lakota, or Penobscot, or Ute, or Diné, or Lenape, or, well, you get the idea.

    @ All U people saying it's 'pandering' to take away the trademark of a's a slur. It has never been a complement, nor even neutral.

    I think thry should name it for their founders and call it the Honkys.

    Posted by: olympiasepiriot | Jun 18, 2014 11:17:19 PM

  21. Incredible how as soon as we're talking about transgender people, Native American or any other minority that tells you "this word is offensive to me, please don't use it", you get half the commenters here coming on like people at Breitbart. "PC Police! They should get over themselves! It's only offensive if you mean it!"

    Just like there are black homophobes, there are gay racists (and transphobes, and male chauvinists...). Apparently minorities love nothing more than oppress other minorities and tell them *their* struggle is worthless.

    Posted by: Hun | Jun 19, 2014 2:41:01 AM

  22. Well, I must admit, in light of this new news, I gave my Aunt Jemima pancakes the side eye this morning.

    Posted by: Sean Maloney | Jun 19, 2014 4:48:52 AM

  23. Hail to the Foreskins! Hail Victory! Hail to the Foreskins! Fight for old DC! A great new name for the team and they could add little turtlenecks to their uniforms! It's perfect!

    Posted by: mdnc | Jun 19, 2014 7:55:54 AM

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