Reid on Stripped Redskins' Trademark: 'The Name Will Change'

Wednesday, 18 Jun 2014 03:08 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, two of the Senate's leading Democratic critics of the Washington Redskins' name, are praising the Patent and Trademark Office's decision to strip the team's trademark.  

"We're so excited to know that finally people are recognizing that this issue can no longer be a business case for the NFL to use this patent," Cantwell, a former chairwoman of the Indian Affairs Committee, said on the Senate floor Wednesday, Roll Call reports. "This is not the end of this case, but this is a landmark decision by the Patent Office that says that the NFL team here in Washington, D.C., does not have a patentable name, and that this is an offensive term."

Reid, of Nevada, also hailed the decision, saying that losing the decision will force Redskins owner Dan Snyder to change the team's name.

"There are 27 tribes in the state of Nevada, Native Americans," said Reid. "The issue of the name Redskins is very important to every one of those tribes. Every time they hear this name is a sad reminder of a long tradition of racism and bigotry."

And while Snyder says the name is about "tradition," Reid says that tradition "of racism is all that that name leaves in its wake. The writing is on the wall. It's on the wall in giant blinking neon lights. The name will change."

In May, Cantwell and Reid pushed a letter eventually signed by 49 senators who caucus with Democrats that urged NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to push Snyder to change the Redskins' name.

"Every Sunday during football season, the Washington, D.C., football team mocks [Native American] culture," they said in the letter, which no Republicans signed. "The NFL can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur."

Redskins trademark attorney Robert Raskopf said the ruling will have no effect on the team's operations, and the Redskins will appeal the decision, reports The Wall Street Journal.  

"We've seen this story before," said Raskopf. "And just like last time, today's ruling will have no effect at all on the team's ownership of and right to use the Redskins name and logo."

The franchise was located originally in Boston and called the Braves, reports The Washington Times. However, after it moved to Washington in 1937, the team said it was changing its name to the Redskins to honor then-coach William "Lone Star" Dietz, who was an American Indian.

Dietz himself said the story wasn't true, and in recent months, numerous lawmakers, along with President Barack Obama, have called on Snyder to rename the team. He has refused, saying the team's name honors American Indians.

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