The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office cited federal trademark laws banning offensive or disparaging language when they canceled six federal trademark registrations for the name “Washington Redskins.”
Based on today’s ruling, the Washington Redskins no longer own trademarks on the following words and phrases: “The Redskins” “Washington Redskins” “Redskins” and “Redskinettes.” The patent office also canceled the trademarks for two logos.
This is the second time the controversial “Washington Redskins” trademark has been revoked on the grounds that the name is “disparaging to Native Americans”.
The earlier ruling in 2003 was overturned on a technicality, because the plaintiffs waited too long after the original trademark date to file their grievances. The newest lawsuit was initiated by younger Native Americans who would not have been able to challenge the original trademark.
The decision is part of an increasing amount of social and political pressure on the team to change the name, but owner Dan Snyder has repeatedly vowed never to do so. Citing the previous case, the Redskins’ attorney stated, “Today’s ruling will have no effect at all on the team’s ownership of and right to use the Redskins name and logo. We are confident we will prevail once again.”
The team has already filed an appeal of the ruling, which could take years to conclude. The cancelation of the trademarks is on hold until a final decision is reached.
Trademark Laws on Offensive or Disparaging Language
If a name or phrase is determined to “disparage persons or bring them into contempt or disrepute,” it is not eligible to be trademarked. While this ruling does not mean that the Redskins have to abandon the name, it could make it significantly harder for the team to keep other people from using it.
Without trademark protection, the team’s lawyers would have a lot fewer rights when it comes to merchandise and apparel. Since no one legally owns the image, going after trademark infringers would require much more time and effort.
Until a final decision is reached, the team will retain and most likely still use their trademarked terms. Critics believe that over time, the team will be “forced to do the right thing.”
A variety of elements could affect your trademark case. To prevail in court, you need a lawyer who knows the law and is ready to protect your interests. To discuss your trademark infringement case, call Klein Trial lawyers for a free consultation. We are ready to fight for you.
[Did You Know: Since 1992, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has refused to issue trademarks containing the word “Redskin” 11 times.]
Klein Trial Lawyers—Los Angeles business litigation lawyers