U.S. Patent Office Cancels Redskins Trademark

The United State Patent and Trademark Office has canceled the trademark on the Redskins name, according to Travis Waldron of ThinkProgress.org. According to the U.S. Patent Office, the name is “disparaging to Native Americans” and therefore can’t be trademarked under federal law, which prohibits the protection of offensive or disparaging language.

“I am extremely happy that the [Board] ruled in our favor,” plaintiff Amanda Blackhorse said in a statement. “It is a great victory for Native Americans and for all Americans. We filed our petition eight years ago and it has been a tough battle ever since. I hope this ruling brings us a step closer to that inevitable day when the name of the Washington football team will be changed.”

This isn’t the first time that the Redskins’ trademark protections have been rescinded — in 1999, the name was ruled offensive to Native Americans, but a federal court overturned that decision due to a technicality that, according to Waldron, the plaintiffs say has been fixed in this most recent case.

Practically speaking, if the decision is upheld, it will allow non-NFL outlets to sell merchandise bearing the Redskins’ name and colors, diluting the value of the name to the franchise. While it wouldn’t necessarily mean the team would have to change its name, it would provide a more compelling reason for owner Dan Snyder and co. to consider the possibility, since it would be costing the franchise money. Of course, before we reach that point, the ruling will likely go through a lengthy appeals process.

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