Tags: redskins | trademark | patent | nfl

Washington Redskins Lose Six Trademarks in US Patent Office Ruling

By    |   Wednesday, 18 Jun 2014 11:32 AM

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled six federal trademark registrations for the Washington Redskins football team on Wednesday, saying the name is "disparaging to Native Americans."

The office's Trademark Trial and Appeal Board issued the ruling for a case filed on behalf of five Native Americans, including lead petitioner Amanda Blackhorse, The Washington Post reported.

"This victory was a long time coming," said lead attorney Jesse Witten, of Drinker Biddle & Reath.

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The firm's chairman, Alfred Putnam Jr., called the Trademark Office's ruling "a milestone victory that will serve as an historic precedent."

According to USA Today, the NFL team was granted the trademarks starting in 1967, but they were found to violate federal trademark law, which forbids trademarks that "may disparage" individuals or groups and "bring them into contempt or disrepute."

Putnam explained the details of the argument they built for the case, stating, "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."

The Redskins cannot be required to stop using the name under the new ruling, but will no longer be granted the protections a federal trademark confers against counterfeiters. That means the team might be unable to stop unaffiliated manufacturers who use the logo and name on items like T-shirts and beer mugs without its consent.

The Wednesday ruling marks the second time the trademark board has ruled against the Redskins and rescinded its registrations. The previous case, which began in 1992 and was led by Suzan Shown Harjo, saw a similar ruling against the Redskins in 1999. The decision was reversed upon an appeal to the U.S. District Court in 2003, however.

The current case, Blackhorse v. Pro Football Inc., was first brought before the board on March 7, 2013. The hearing lasted 90-minutes.

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The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled six federal trademark registrations for the Washington Redskins football team on Wednesday, saying the name is "disparaging to Native Americans."
redskins, trademark, patent, nfl
351
2014-32-18
Wednesday, 18 Jun 2014 11:32 AM
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