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Redskins Run In to Trademark Trouble in Clash Over Name Change

Shutterstock


Shutterstock

Those making the case that it’s high time the Washington Redskins changed their name got a boost Wednesday from the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, which decided to cancel half a dozen federal trademark registrations owned by the NFL team.

This move on the part of the U.S. Patent Office, however, won’t automatically force the team to come up with a new mascot, as USA Today explains:

The Washington team retains its federal trademark rights pending appeal. And even if the club loses on appeal, it can continue to use the name, as it has for more than 80 years. But without federal trademark protection, others could potentially use the team’s name and logos to sell merchandise with impunity, although owners of unregistered marks can still try to protect them through state statutes or common law. The team has two months to file the appeal.

The TTAB, an independent administrative tribunal within the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, ruled that by a preponderance of the evidence petitioners had proved the term was disparaging to Native Americans when the six marks were registered

“We decide, based on the evidence properly before us, that these registrations must be canceled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered,” the opinion says.

Although Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has taken a defiant position about keeping the moniker, his opposition has proven to be tough to shake, as this latest legal struggle started with a suit filed eight years ago, and that wasn’t the first round.

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

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