US Patent Office Cancels Redskins Trademark, Enters a Debate on Race

The US Patent Office has cancelled the trademark registration held by the Washington Redskins, calling team's name and five other trademarks containing the term Redskins "disparaging to Native Americans."

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The US Patent Office has cancelled the trademark registration held by the Washington Redskins, calling team's name and five other trademarks containing the term Redskins "disparaging to Native Americans." The ruling was a result of a legal challenge brought on the behalf of a group of Native Americans. "Federal trademark law does not permit registration of trademarks that 'may disparage' individuals or groups or 'bring them into contempt or disrepute.' The ruling pertains to six different trademarks associated with the team, each containing the word 'Redskin.'" 

What's the Big Idea

A similar ruling was handed down in 1999 though eventually overturned by an appellate court on technical grounds. But observers say more momentum has gathered around the current controversy over the name change than ever before. Indeed U.S. senators, former and current NFL players and others all have called for team owner Dan Snyder to change the name. Snyder, for his part, has steadfastly refused to change the team's name saying the logo and the name honor Native Americans. The NFL is expected to appeal the Patent Office's decision, just as it did in 1999.

Read more at the Washington Post

Photo credit: dean bertoncelj/Shutterstock

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