September 1, 2014

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UPDATED: Trademark board rules against Redskins name

A Washington Redskins football helmet lies on the field during NFL football minicamp Wednesday  (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

A Washington Redskins football helmet lies on the field during NFL football minicamp Wednesday (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

WASHINGTON (AP) — 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.

  • John Davidson

    Hoping for a long appeal process. This politically correct stuff is a bunch of BS. You can call white people “honky” and “cracker” but they can’t say anything without being called raciest.

    • TruthWhisperer

      Are there any sports teams named the Honky’s or Crackers?

      Because if there isn’t then you are creating an alternate reality to justify your stance in this reality.

      Thats what we call delusional.

      PS its Racist not Raciest in case you wanted to use 4th grade grammar.

      • NR2004

        I believe the Circleville Crackers are a semi-pro baseball team

        • golfingirl

          I am offended that they sell “Cracker” Jacks at the ballparks.

          This must stop immediately.

          • tickmeoff

            That’s a good one! Cracker Jacks! Set up the demonstration! I’ll join.

        • Starryeyes63

          There was also the Atlanta Cracker (Negro League 1919-1952) making fun of whites I guess.

          • TruthWhisperer

            so you wanna go back over 50 years to appease your inner racial self?

            oh and your last sentence should be Make fun of not main fun of.

            Stick with that 4th grade grammar. You are doing better

          • TruthWhisperer

            So you want to go back 50 years to appease your inner racism?

            Thought that was the case.

            PS your last sentence should say: Make fun of not main fun of.

            That 4th grade grammar is a bit of a struggle for you I see.

        • TruthWhisperer

          So no Pro team, Thanks for pointing that out.

          I stand correct, I appreciate that

      • Phil Blank

        “Cracker” Barrel.

  • Mark B

    So change the logo to portray a Indian holding a red skin potato and call it a day . When they complain , state that redskins refer to the potato not the indian .

  • SweetScarlet

    It’s way past time they changed the name. I’m sure they’ll just make more money off the change with sales.

  • Smira29595

    I agree with our Native American population. I am highly insulted by the racially charged name of the Washington Redskins.

    One might argue that to name a professional football team after Native Americans would exalt them as fine warriors, but nay, nay. We must be careful not to offend, and in the spirit of political correctness and courtesy, we must move forward.

    While we’re at it, let’s ditch the Kansas City Chiefs, the Atlanta Braves and the Cleveland Indians….

    If your shorts are in a wad because of the reference the name Redskins makes to skin color, we need to get rid of the Cleveland Browns, as well.

    The Carolina Panthers obviously were named to keep the memory of militant Blacks from the 60′s alive. Gone. It’s offensive to us white folk.

    The New York Yankees offend the Southern population. Do you see a team named for the Confederacy? No! There is no room for any reference to that tragic war that cost this country so many young men’s lives.

    I am also offended by the blatant references to the Catholic religion among our sports team names. It’s totally inappropriate to have the New Orleans Saints, the Los Angeles Angels, or the San Diego Padres.

    Then there are the team names that glorify criminals who raped and pillaged. We are talking about the horrible Oakland Raiders, the Minnesota Vikings, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Pittsburgh Pirates!

    Now, let us address those teams that clearly send the wrong message to our children:

    The San Diego Chargers promote irresponsible fighting or even spending habits. Wrong message to our children.

    The New York Giants and the San Francisco Giants promote obesity, a growing childhood epidemic. Wrong message to our children.

    The Cincinnati Reds promote downers/barbiturates. Wrong message to our children.

    The Milwaukee Brewers – well, that goes without saying . . . Wrong message to our children.

    So, there you go. We need to support any legislation that proposed to rectify this travesty, because the government will likely become involved with this issue, as they should. Just the kind of thing our do-nothing Congress loves.

    With all of this in mind, it might also make some sense to change the name of the Oregon State women’s athletic teams to something other than the ‘Beavers’.

    • golfingirl

      Looks like a lot of names are going to need changing:

      Danville Braves
      Gulf Coast Braves
      Mississippi Braves
      Gwinnett Braves
      Rome Braves
      Cleveland Indians
      Indianapolis Indians
      Kinston Indians
      Peoria Chiefs
      Spokane Indians

      And these are only a few, which are related only to Indians!

      • Starryeyes63

        Atlanta Braves….

      • TruthWhisperer

        The only ones google could find with your limited time right?

      • Starryeyes63

        Guess he missed all the ones Smira posted. ( still not very bright) all the name calling ect. ( Paid blogger)

        • TruthWhisperer

          Swing and a miss

          but you have each other to complain to, Got to have something when facts and reality are not on your side.

          Maybe next time

          • Starryeyes63

            Yet you swing both ways and still miss…………..

          • TruthWhisperer

            ooohhh did you come up with that all by yourself?

            your prejudices are leaking through, We knew you didnt care much for Non-Whites but now you make homosexual jokes?

            You seem like a really good person, Im sure your loved ones are proud of your prejudices being posted on the internet.

      • Smira29595

        Do the “White Socks” Offend the city of Parma?

        • Starryeyes63

          LMAO

        • Phil Blank

          Don’t bring Ghoulardi into this mess.

      • Phil Blank

        You left out all the car names, the names of many cities, towns and counties, the names of the Great Lakes.
        All indian names.

        • golfingirl

          Change them all, immediately!

          My mother’s uncle’s grandson’s sister’s brother was 1% Native American.

          I am so offended that I simply cannot carry on any longer.

    • Starryeyes63

      Don’t forget NE Patriots Right wing extremist who were racist slave owners.

    • Starryeyes63

      Oh and the Cardinals Blatantly referring to the Catholics too.

      • TruthWhisperer

        that would be the Child Predator Homosexual Molesters right?

    • Phil Blank

      I’m 1/4 Native American and it doesn’t bother me a bit.
      It lets the world know that American Indans once roamer ‘our’ land, but no more.

      • Branded

        What nation are you? What clan are your people? If you claim to be Native American then are you saying a quarter of you is missing from the land?

  • NR2004

    I’m still perplexed that we generally refer to Native Americans as Indians. We only called them Indians because we thought we were in India. How did that stick for 600 years?

    • TruthWhisperer

      Republicans

      • Simon Jester

        WTF is wrong with you?

        I don’t even like Limbaugh, but the Bush Derangement Syndrome is palpable.

  • Americaschild

    liberals change what fits their agenda. we have laws that are not enforced and they make new. let’s start with illegals, title 9, and putting someone in jail working for obama

    • TruthWhisperer

      its not like Conservatives have been doing anything other than obstruction.

      So you got that :-)

      • Simon Jester

        “I don’t have anything to add to this discussion, so I’ll go right to blaming Republicans or Conservatives!”

        It’s the answer to all of the country’s problems!

        You do know they had a couple of nations that were wedded to everything you preach… They only killed about 100 million of thier own citizens. A model for the rest of us !

  • Pablo Jones

    The owners aren’t the only ones that make money off the trade marks. Don’t forget the NFL gets a piece of the action. They may say that the Redskins are not protected, but the Redskins are part of the NFL and if people start infringing on the Redskins’ trademark they are also infringing on the NFL through the illegal use of the Redskins brand. I doubt the NFL would let that fly.

  • glevans

    I have a question for the commenters in here who have no problem with the name and don’t feel that it needs to be changed. Let’s say Jimmy Haslam’s legal problems eventually force him to have to sell the Browns and they are bought by a Native American group who promptly change the name from the Cleveland Browns to the Cleveland Pale Faces and justify it by saying it was done to “honor” all the great white players that previously played for the team. Would all of you be as perfectly ok with pale faces as a name for a professional sports team as you are with Redskins?

    • Pablo Jones

      I think the issue is with changing the name. No one wants their team to change their name regardless of what it is changed too. Do you think the Packers would like their team name changed, even if it was to a non-offensive name?

      Personally I wouldn’t be offended by any name. The owner and the NFL have the right to pick whatever name they want. If it offends people so be it they don’t have to buy their merchandise. If everyone hates it and no one buys then it was a bad business decision.

      Next up for name change the Vikings. Why should an NFL team honor a group of pillaging rapists.

      • Smira29595

        LOL I listed a whole bunch earlier.

    • Starryeyes63

      See the post by Smira. many name could be offensive to certain groups

    • Mark B

      I think it would be fine , its not the “White Person” who cries racism about everything. in fact I think the “White Person ” is the only ones who can be blamed for racism .

      • HankKwah

        I wouldn’t say “can be blamed”, more like “is blamed”.

  • Pablo Jones

    “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.”

    Ok time for the hypocrisy test. How many other things that violate that rule have been trademarked? Lots of band names and their songs fall into these categories. Here is one in the apparel business, “Figgas Over N!ggas”, or “FagOut!”, or “B!tch in Bling”

  • Otter

    So they can still use the name, and the logo, they just lost the Trademark on the name, which means any one can use it..Well played.

    • Starryeyes63

      Yeah, think about it, now anyone can make “Redskins” gear, shirts. hats, mugs, ect. Even more stuff out there and probably at a lesser price. I love CAPITALISM!

  • Guest

    Now here is an Idea……..

  • Scout

    Ok now that we have decided to get rid of the ‘red’skins let’s look at another offensive terms; like the ‘n’ word and that’s all you hear out of radios at the red lights; or calling someone a ‘black’ person….for pete’s sake what kind of band wagon are we really following here…..oh wait let’s go back to hmmmm 1930′s? Germany?…..

  • Simon Jester

    The offended natives are laughing all the way to the bank, as they deposit all that Casino money.

  • DonMega

    Who cares all these problems in the world.

  • Scout

    Me thinks Harry Reid did an end run around all this and searched until he found the ‘loop’ hole and went straight to the FTC and poof. With on fell swoop of Reid’s tomahawk there goes Chief Wahoo as well…

  • tickmeoff

    I am in Minnesota, at an Indian Casino. Lo and behold, what is ahead of me, but an Indian with a Chief Wahoo hat. I tell him about the protests at Progressive field. and how it’s bad. To which he replies ” Not all Indians feel the same.”
    It’s a caricature, and although I voted for Obama 2x. He is wrong on this issue.
    This political correctness, like typewriters has ran it’s course. I am not buying it! It’s ridiculous. We can’t be white people and black people. Ohhhh no, that is just too simple. We have to be African Americans and European Americans.
    The suspect is black or white.Who in a time of panic is going to take the extra time to utter those extra syllables? You know in the end, it’s about treating each other with respect. We all know what words to say if we want to start a fight.
    Just because a politician or talking head tells you what to think, be independent, follow the moral code your parents, your church taught you.
    Think for yourself, let your conscious rule you. Most people have a good sense of right and wrong by the time they are 14. Don’t let the media rule you, pick and choose what you want to follow. Be strong minded, understand what is bigotry and how to treat your fellow man. Political correctness like Bell Bottoms and long hair is a fad and should be treated as such.

    • HankKwah

      Here’s story I pass along every time this topic comes up: A Cleveland salesman (years ago) had an appointment out west with some tribal leaders on a reservation. His boss stressed NOT to wear/pack/take ANYTHING with Chief Wahoo on it. Salesman gets to the reservation, greets the leaders, and the first thing he’s asked is if he has any Chief Wahoo clothing/hats/etc. Stunned, the salesman says no. The leader, visibly saddened, says that’s too bad, you’d have made a lot of money selling that stuff. We LOVE Chief Wahoo here, and it’s hard to get any of the clothing out here.

  • Pablo Jones

    How about they let the fans vote. 1. Washington Redskins. 2. Washington Bloody Savages. I think it might be close.

    • Smira29595

      How about name them after Obammy Washington THINskins!!!

  • Branded

    I will put this as simple as I can so most of you are able to understand it. I will censor myself as well. Though you may not feel the same way because someone in your family told you were X part Native (no your great great whatever Grandmother was not an Indian Princess) the term Redskin is the same as “Nig**r”. But “the hell you say?” Well just because you have not heard it everyday put like that or your history books did not tell you the meaning doesn’t mean you know a thing about it. So hey if you want to keep such a horrible name as the Redskins then bring on The Detroit Nig**rs, The San Antonio Sp**ks, The Kiryas Joel K*k*s, and so forth. No, you don’t do that because it is insensitive. And learn some history a “Cracker” was any man with the whip. No matter his color.

    • Starryeyes63

      And “Oreo” is a derogatory term used to refer to Black Conservatives, should Nabisco be forced to change the name????

  • Sis Delish

    IF, the folks want to punish the current owners of the Washington Redskins NFL Team, then it would only be appropriate for the Washington Redskins to claim the need for reparations.

  • golfingirl

    Just tell them the “Red Skins” were named after a dematological condition.

  • Smira29595

    LMAO maybe

  • Scout

    oh my….

  • Starryeyes63

    He only knows because it takes on to know one……(Kept hitting on me and by pic you can tell I am a child LOL)

  • Starryeyes63

    Well “everyone” is sooooooo offended.

  • Phil Blank

    Well, well, I see you know a total of 4 whole words now Bob.
    If you are really good and think up a few more, maybe your mommy will ask you if you want candy?

  • Scout

    Ain’t that the truff LOL LOL

  • TruthWhisperer

    You are a child, You got that right :-)

  • Bob

    TROLLASORUS Rex