Washington Redskins trademark registration canceled

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the Washington Redskins trademark registration, a decision following years of complaints that the name is offensive to Native Americans

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has canceled six federal trademark registrations for the Washington Redskins, ruling that the football team's name is disparaging to Native Americans. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) of the PTO decided that six Redskins trademarks, issued between 1967 and 1990, should be canceled.

"We decide, based on the evidence properly before us, that these registrations must be cancelled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered," the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board wrote in its opinion.

In May, half of the Senate wrote letters to the NFL urging a change in the team's name. But, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has vowed never to change the name. Allen had written to Reid saying the football team's nickname is respectful toward Native Americans.

While this is a setback for the team, Anessa Kramer, a Partner in the Trademark & Copyright practice at law firm Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP said it won’t cause immediate changes. “For the near future, we suspect that things will likely be business-as-usual.  Nothing in today’s decision affects the ability of the team to use the name; it only impacts their ability to register the marks featuring the term REDSKINS, which the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board has held to be disparaging to Native Americans.  Plus, the appeals process can take at least a couple of years,” she explained.

Contributing Author

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Amanda Ciccatelli

Amanda G. Ciccatelli is a Contributing Writer for InsideCounsel, where she covers the patent litigation space. Amanda earned a B.A. in Communications and Journalism from...

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