In a landmark decision the U.S. patent office canceled the trademark for the Redskins football team earlier this morning (6/18).
Although not directly fantasy related, this is a monumental decision that will be felt across the NFL. The Redskins have demonstrated over the past year that they would fight to keep their name.
The US Patent and Trademark Office official canceled six trademark registrations for the name of the Washington Redskins.
The Landmark Ruling
The board stated, "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."
Jessee Witten, the plaintiffs' attorney said, “The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board agreed with our clients that the team’s name and trademarks disparage Native Americans. The Board ruled that the Trademark Office should never have registered these trademarks in the first place. We presented a wide variety of evidence – including dictionary definitions and other reference works, newspaper clippings, movie clips, scholarly articles, expert linguist testimony, and evidence of the historic opposition by Native American groups – to demonstrate that the word ‘redskin’ is an ethnic slur.”
“I am extremely happy that the [Board] ruled in our favor,” Blackhorse (the plaintiff) said in a statement. “It is a great victory for Native Americans and for all Americans. We filed our petition eight years ago and it has been a tough battle ever since. I hope this ruling brings us a step closer to that inevitable day when the name of the Washington football team will be changed. The team’s name is racist and derogatory. I’ve said it before and I will say it again – if people wouldn’t dare call a Native American a ‘redskin’ because they know it is offensive, how can an NFL football team have this name?”
The NFL Fallout
Our team and industry experts are still digesting the ruling and the possible fallout that it still to come.
I would expect that the Redskins will appeal the ruling, as they did the Patent and Trademark Offices ruling in 1992. They won that appeal, although the plaintiffs state that those technicalities that go it overturned have been fixed in this suit.
We will continue to update this post as more information becomes available.
Do you think the Redskins should have had their trademark revoked? We'd love to hear your thoughts.