The United States Patent & Trademark Office, on June 18, 2014, canceled six Federal Trademark Registrations of the name “Redskins” because it was found to be disparaging to Native Americans. This is an additional step, although a major one, in potentially forcing Daniel Snyder to agree to change the name of Washington’s NFL franchise.
The effect of the Ruling is that it creates a negative impact economically for Daniel Snyder and the team. Subject to any “stay” issued by any court or appropriate jurisdiction, or an overturning of the Ruling canceling the trademarks, people will be able to make their own, and sell, clothing and memorabilia with the team’s name and even, potentially, the Indianhead logo of the team without interfering with any licensing rights of the NFL or the Washington franchise.
While it is almost certain that the team will appeal this decision to the Federal Courts, it only means more bad press for the team and the NFL as the fight to retain the right to use an offensive term is defended by the league and/or team.
We commend the US Patent & Trademark Office for its decision and hope this keeps pressure on the team and the league to finally recognize that no matter what the history of the team and the name, it is time for a change.
Steven T. Blomberg
Image Credit: Joseph Glorioso