Feds rule against 'Redskins' nickname

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 12:19 PM
Last updated 7:37 PM
  • Follow Crime & courts

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Patent Office ruled Wednesday that the Washington Redskins nickname is “disparaging of Native Americans” and that the team’s federal trademarks for the name must be canceled.

The 2-1 ruling comes after a campaign to change the name gained momentum over the past year. The team doesn’t immediately lose trademark protection and is allowed to retain it during an appeal, which is likely.

Redskins owner Dan Snyder has refused to change the team’s name, citing tradition, but there has been growing pressure including statements in recent months from President Barack Obama, lawmakers of both parties and civil rights groups.

The decision means that the team can continue to use the Redskins name, but it would lose a significant portion of its ability to protect the financial interests connected to its use. If others printed the name on sweatshirts, apparel, or other team material, it becomes more difficult to go after groups who use it without permission.

The case involves six registered trademarks that involve the use of the word Redskins, but it does not apply to the team’s logo.

The decision by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board is similar to one it issued in 1999. That ruling was overturned in 2003 in large part on a technicality after the courts decided that the plaintiffs should have filed their complaint soon after the Redskins registered their nickname in 1967.

The new case was launched in 2006 by a younger group of Native Americans, and was heard by the board in March of last year.

The group argued that the Redskins should lose their federal trademark protection based on a law that prohibits registered names that are disparaging, scandalous, contemptuous or disreputable.

Suzan Shown Harjo, one of the plaintiffs who testified at last year’s hearing, said she was “thrilled and delighted” with the decision. Snyder declined to speak to reporters as he walked off the practice field, but the team said it planned to release a statement later in the day.

In Washington, lawmakers who have pushed for a name change applauded the decision. In May, half of the Senate wrote letters to the NFL urging the team to change its name.

“Daniel Snyder may be the last person in the world to realize this, but it’s just a matter of time until he is forced to do the right thing and change the name,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has said previously he will not attend home games until the team changes its name.

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Marinerman1
5320
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Marinerman1 06/18/14 - 11:32 am
7
2
I Don't Agree With This Ruling

I think this ruling is wrong. This taking PC to an extreme. Watch out Braves -- we could be next ...!! However, I also think we have treated our Native Americans, much like it has been found, we have treated our Veterans -- probably worse.

GiantsAllDay
10295
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GiantsAllDay 06/18/14 - 11:32 am
4
11
The Brave's team name will

The Brave's team name will survive. HOWEVER, that mindless, asinine, HIGHLY OFFENSIVE tomahawk chop chant must go.

Fiat_Lux
16246
Points
Fiat_Lux 06/18/14 - 11:53 am
12
3
Between this kind of stupid, inane nonsense, Obummercare and

Common Core, expect all the joy, intelligence and goodness to have departed the American way of life by the end of this decade.

The only people that will be happy and at peace will be the parasites feeding off the labor and goodness of others, and those of us who know that the miserable mess foisted upon us by the godless and greedy will only last for a while before it all implodes.

Mr. Thackeray
957
Points
Mr. Thackeray 06/18/14 - 12:10 pm
4
10
"Probably worse" ??? REALLY?

"Probably worse" ??? REALLY? Our vets are FAR better off than Indians ever were when Europeans/Americans/Whites made contact!

grinder48
2040
Points
grinder48 06/18/14 - 12:12 pm
0
0
Next
Unpublished

Next will be PETA agains the Bears, Dolphins, Bengals, Colts, etc. This PC nonsense is completely out of control.

BamaMan
2637
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BamaMan 06/18/14 - 12:21 pm
9
4
RIDICULOUS

WHY can't people see that to be named after someone is a COMPLIMENT?! Some people just have nothing to do, I swear. These are probably the same people that don't want little Johnny's team to lose. It MIGHT hurt his feelings. WE DON'T ALWAYS WIN IN THE REAL WORLD. SHEEZE.

Little Lamb
48044
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Little Lamb 06/18/14 - 12:18 pm
9
3
Overreach

Our government has gotten too big for its britches.

Who would have thought that there would be an agency so powerful it could outlaw disparagement.

Dixieman
16617
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Dixieman 06/18/14 - 12:36 pm
7
1
Everyone please take a closer look

I don't agree with this ruling either, BUT please remember this: It does NOT mean that the team can't use "Redskins" any more -- it can. The decision (which was 2-1) just means the team loses certain Federal protection, but not all protection, against people who infringe the trademark by making unauthorized copies of shirts, cups, whatever. The team still has common-law trademark protection which is very powerful, though not as strong as Federal protection, so please no one here think you can start cranking out unauthorized copies of Redskins merchandise.
And Little Lamb, the US Patent and Trademark Office is a Federal agency that grants what its name says it does, so it also has the power to revoke or amend its own earlier decisions which should not disturb you.
ALSO: Update to story. Team's lawyer says decision is fatally flawed and the team will be appealing the ruling. My prediction, after reading the actual decision, is that the team will win on appeal.

OJP
7493
Points
OJP 06/18/14 - 12:34 pm
4
11
Good news.

"Was there ever any domination that did not appear natural to those who possessed it?" - J.S. Mill

The name is highly offensive to Native Americans, and it's ridiculous for that to take a backseat to concerns over being "too PC".

burninater
9799
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burninater 06/18/14 - 01:14 pm
4
10
"This kind of inane

"This kind of inane nonsense"?

Tell us, Fiat.

What does not having Federal patent protection of a racial slur have to do with the loss of joy, intelligence, and goodness?

cush1944
12684
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cush1944 06/18/14 - 01:52 pm
8
3
This is coming from the evil

This is coming from the evil moron in the Whitehouse. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

burninater
9799
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burninater 06/18/14 - 01:58 pm
2
8
"Who would have thought that

"Who would have thought that there would be an agency so powerful it could outlaw disparagement."
------
LL, you need to reread the article, as no agency outlawed disparagement.

In fact, the agency did just about the OPPOSITE of outlaw it -- they rescinded Federal protection of exclusive commercial use, so now almost ANYONE can sell this racial slur to their hearts' content.

Free markets 1, Regulatory monopolization of racial slurs 0.

It doesn't get more Mom and apple pie than that.

cush1944
12684
Points
cush1944 06/18/14 - 01:55 pm
6
2
"Team's lawyer says decision

"Team's lawyer says decision is fatally flawed and the team will be appealing the ruling. My prediction, after reading the actual decision, is that the team will win on appeal."
Dixieman, as long as the evil moron is in the WH they will not win an appeal.

AFjoe
4682
Points
AFjoe 06/18/14 - 02:17 pm
9
1
I say drop it

I think the Washington Redskins should drop the word Washington from its name.

myfather15
55844
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myfather15 06/18/14 - 02:26 pm
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5
Mr. Thackeray

Absolutely, there were cases of extreme genocide against American Indians. But for vast majority of American Indians and europeans, they got along fine. There were also cases of American Indians committing MASS slaughter of families, including women and children; simply because they were traveling across their land. That never seems to get mentioned when talking about history!!

During those times, there were good and bad American Indians and there were good and bad white folks, black folks and so forth!! The same is true today and all throughout history. There is now and has always been bad people in EVERY race.

myfather15
55844
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myfather15 06/18/14 - 02:28 pm
7
3
So now, simple because SOME

So now, simple because SOME people might be offended, the federal government is going to take property that you own?? This could get very ugly if they're allowed to do this!!

Pops
12544
Points
Pops 06/18/14 - 02:31 pm
9
1
We have become

The United States of The Offended..........Obama and people of his ilk love these non-issues to "solve"......takes the attention away from real life and death problems that are too messy to deal with......

burninater
9799
Points
burninater 06/18/14 - 03:02 pm
3
10
"So now, simple because SOME

"So now, simple because SOME people might be offended, the federal government is going to take property that you own??"
------
That's not the case here, myfather. The team name was determined to be "disparaging" of individuals, which violates patent law.

Disparagement and offensiveness are two different things.

People aren't simply "offended" by the Redskins name. The commercialization of the moronic evil that is racism has no business in a civilized society. It's still legal -- people can make money off of hate and ignorance -- but that doesn't make it trademarkable.

Folks are free to ascribe to racist ideology in all its ignorance to their heart's content. That doesn't mean they are entitled to Federal regulatory protection of racism as property.

Little Lamb
48044
Points
Little Lamb 06/18/14 - 03:54 pm
5
2
Again

Our government has gotten too big for its britches.

burninater
9799
Points
burninater 06/18/14 - 04:10 pm
4
8
How so, LL?Should the

How so, LL?

Should the content of a trademark not be considered by the gov't for that trademark to be granted or retained?

deestafford
30537
Points
deestafford 06/18/14 - 04:10 pm
4
4
Let's get away from this picture of peace-loving Indians...

Let's get away from this picture of peace-loving Indians sitting around campfire singing the equivalent of Kumbya

The Indians were a stone age people who slaughtered each other. The Europeans basically treated them the same as they treated each other.

Not all of the American Indians dislike the name of the Redskins and take it as a compliment. It's only the activist-crapstirrers, hate-the-white- man agitators who are calling for the change.

This ruling takes private property rights from the Redskin owners.

The sad thing is we ain't seen nothin' yet from Obama. He has taken the gloves off and will dictate as we have never imagined before in American history. He will act like a dictator daring the Republicans to try to impeach the first black president. Maybe we should just impeach the white half.

burninater
9799
Points
burninater 06/18/14 - 04:34 pm
4
10
So ...

So ... If we compound racial slurs with racial stereotypes, then somehow trademarked slurs are defensible?

And "the white half"?! Come on out of the stone age cave, we fancy "Europeans" have discovered something called genetics. See, it turns out that race is an illusion. It has no biologic basis. Genetically-speaking, two members of the same "race" are as likely to be related to one another as two members of different "races".

Racism was somewhat defensible when folks didn't have the evidence to know otherwise. Now, we know better. It's an illusion. Get over it.

nocnoc
47473
Points
nocnoc 06/18/14 - 07:25 pm
7
2
Nothing but a bunch over sensitive Liberal Crusaders

Since when did the USA PATENT OFFICE
have this Official Politically Correct Regulation?

stuaby
4635
Points
stuaby 06/18/14 - 07:59 pm
7
1
"Between this kind of stupid,

"Between this kind of stupid, inane nonsense, Obummercare and
Common Core, expect all the joy, intelligence and goodness to have departed the American way of life by the end of this decade."

I don't think it'll take that long, fiat_lux. We're in complete freefall now and usually that bottoms out sooner rather than later.

Total madness, everywhere one looks.

stuaby
4635
Points
stuaby 06/18/14 - 08:10 pm
7
1
"Some people just have

"Some people just have nothing to do, I swear."

Absolutely.

The Chinese are taking over disputed lands and expanding influence.
The Russians are moving westward and taking over lands.
Iraq, Syria, Iran, Southern Turkey, Egypt, Nigeria, Libya, et. al., are lit fuses nearing the fuel canisters.
The U.S.-Mexican border is an EPIC immigration policy failure and an utter disaster.
19,000 special interest groups in the U.S. are having to be propped up by more and more printed money.
My fingers aren't strong enough to list all the problems.

And what are the Democrats doing?

Griping/pandering/etc. about the name of a sport's team that nobody else is thinking about.

D'you see what I mean, folks?

bdouglas
5588
Points
bdouglas 06/18/14 - 08:15 pm
3
4
So some of you get all worked

So some of you get all worked up about this when a few weeks ago you were up in arms saying old Donald Sterling should have his team taken away for his comments...but the Redskins should be able to keep their trademark?

Just playing devil's advocate here...

bdouglas
5588
Points
bdouglas 06/18/14 - 08:16 pm
6
1
Also, I get really sweaty in

Also, I get really sweaty in the summertime. Embarrassingly so at times. As such, I am deeply offended by the Miami Heat. You'll be hearing from my lawyer.

JRC2024
9999
Points
JRC2024 06/18/14 - 10:15 pm
4
0
Do I really care what the

Do I really care what the name is, No, but I do care about government trying to tell me what is and is not sensitive to others. Grow some thicker skin if it could be done. Big deal on the name. Get off the reservation and make something of yourselves-several hundred years is enough time.

jimmymac
45888
Points
jimmymac 06/18/14 - 11:06 pm
0
0
NAMES
Unpublished

Braves and Indians will be next on the PC agenda. Watch out FSU.

nocnoc
47473
Points
nocnoc 06/19/14 - 05:35 am
5
0
Here is a thought for using the same logic

What if a group of people filed a Federal court complaint against the NAACP, UNCF, UNIA-ACL, NNBL, NALC and others because of what the "C" and "N" stand for are “disparaging" & "inciteful".

Besides there are already LEGAL Precedents that mute this political issue.
Because the United States Patent and Trademark Office categorizes all logos by the images they contain. Using their OWN records and their process of categorizing items they list over 600 active trademarks for insignias that feature Native American men and women, registered to 450 different companies.

So it seems the United States Patent and Trademark Office is playing politics.

Or the White House (can we say that any more) is playing the DISTRACTION card again to bury yet another scandal.

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