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Washington Redskins Fight the Patent Office for the Trademark Nickname

June 18th, 2014 at 7:57 PM
By Marty Simpkins

The United States Patent Office has decided to cancel six trademark registrations attached to the Redskins' nickname. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled that the Redskins trademarks were "disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered." This is the latest battle in an ongoing war between the Washington Redskins football franchise and the United States government. 

'Washington Redskins v. Jacksonville Jaguars' photo (c) 2006, Mark Brennan - license:

Bob Raskopf, the Redskins' trademark attorney, released a statement at 12:30 p.m. this afternoon saying the following:

"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 canceled the Redskins’ trademark registrations, and where a federal district court disagreed and reversed the Board."

There was more to the statement, but the bottom line is that the Washington Redskins still refuse to change their nickname. These trademark cancelations imposed by the U.S. Patent Office will not affect the Redskins name to be changed immediately.

The trademark decision will allow outside parties to conceivably produce Redskins merchandise and the Redskins might lose their ability to use the federal registration symbol on all of their trademark, meaning that owner Dan Snyder won't be making more money that he has in the past. This will hurt the Redskins financially and will put more pressure on the team to change the name.

Redskins Hall-of-Fame offensive lineman Russ Grimm defended the nickname, saying:

"The name has been around long enough," Grimm said. "It hasn’t offended anyone for a long time. I’ve never heard of anybody calling ‘Redskins’ where it’s a derogatory name. I don’t think anything that has been part of that team – the name, the concept or whatever — offends any American Indians."

This controversy over the Redskins nickname has come up almost every decade, but no progress has ever been made. The Redskins have appealed this action and will await a response from the federal district court. Dan Snyder has already publicly announced that he will "never" change the name and other personnel of the team have great confidence that they will never have to change it. This latest trademark registration cancelation might be a huge blow to the Redskins' franchise that could get people talking yet again.


Tags: Dan Snyder, Football, NFL, Washington, Washington Redskins

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