U.S. Patent Office Rules 'Redskins' Name Disparaging, Cancels Trademarks

Christopher

Community and Technical Manager
Staff member
Jun 1, 2007
11,930
101
63
48
Newnan, GA
#1
http://washington.cbslocal.com/2014...ncels-six-trademarks-for-washington-redskins/

LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC/AP) — The United States Trademark Trial and Appeal Board canceled six federal trademarks held by the Washington Redskins involving the team’s name in a landmark ruling issued Wednesday morning.The 2-1 ruling comes after a campaign to change the name gained momentum over the past year.
The board wrote the following in its opinion: “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 cancellations are pending and the Redskins plan to appeal the decision. The ruling does not require the team change its name, but it does make it increasingly difficult enforce any trademark infringement claims against others printing the name on sweatshirts, apparel, or other team material.
“The team will certainly take the position that they still have protectable trademarks,” said Jesse Witten, the lead attorney representing a group of five Native Americans that filed the claim.
The case involves six registered trademarks that involve the use of the word Redskins, but it does not apply to the team’s logo.
“We’ve seen this story before,” Bob Raskopf, trademark attorney for the Redskins said. “And just like last time, today’s ruling will have no effect at all on the team’s ownership of and right to use the Redskins name and logo.”
Read Full Redskins Statement
Witten is confident that the decision will be upheld on appeal.
“It was a careful decision. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board wrote a very careful and thoughtful decision. There really can’t be any serious dispute that this is a disparaging term,” said Witten.
Redskins Fan Cries Over Ruling
However, Raskopf disagrees because the same evidence presented in an earlier ruling favorable to the team was again used in the latest litigation.
“We are confident we will prevail once again, and that the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s divided ruling will be overturned on appeal,” Raskopf said. “This case is no different than an earlier case, where the Board cancelled the Redskins’ trademark registrations, and where a federal district court disagreed and reversed the Board.”
The NFL has deferred requests for comment to Raskopf’s statement on behalf of the team.
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.
“Any name change is going to come because of all the popular attention and concern and pressure that the public is going to bring to bear on this,” said Witten. “I think that the tide has really turned and there is a widespread recognition right now that the team name really is not appropriate. It is an artifact from a much earlier era and it really needs to change.”
He noted that his clients, including Amanda Blackhorse, are “extremely elated” by the ruling.
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 because the courts decided that the plaintiffs were too old.
The new case was launched in 2006 by a younger group of Native Americans. A hearing was held in March 2013.
“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,” said Witten. “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. This victory was a long time coming and reflects the hard work of many attorneys at our firm.”
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.
Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who has been one of the most vocal critics of the name on Capitol Hill,spoke bluntly on the Senate floor.
“The writing is on the wall. It’s on the wall in giant blinking neon lights,” Reid said. “The name will change and justice will be done for the tribes in Nevada and across the nation who care so deeply about this issue.”


Oneida Indian Nation representative Ray Halbritter and National Congress of American Indians Executive Director Jackie Pata also praised the decision.
“The U.S. Patent Office has now restated the obvious truth that Native Americans, civil rights leaders, athletes, religious groups, state legislative bodies, Members of Congress and the president have all echoed: taxpayer resources cannot be used to help private companies profit off the promotion of dictionary defined racial slurs,” the groups said in a joint statement. “If the most basic sense of morality, decency and civility has not yet convinced the Washington team and the NFL to stop using this hateful slur, then hopefully today’s patent ruling will, if only because it imperils the ability of the team’s billionaire owner to keep profiting off the denigration and dehumanization of Native Americans.”
Redskins Statement on Ruling
“We’ve seen this story before. And just like last time, today’s ruling will have no effect at all on the team’s ownership of and right to use the Redskins name and logo.
We are confident we will prevail once again, and that the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s divided ruling will be overturned on appeal. This case is no different than an earlier case, where the Board cancelled the Redskins’ trademark registrations, and where a federal district court disagreed and reversed the Board.
As today’s dissenting opinion correctly states, “the same evidence previously found insufficient to support cancellation” here “remains insufficient” and does not support cancellation.
This ruling – which of course we will appeal – simply addresses the team’s federal trademark registrations, and the team will continue to own and be able to protect its marks without the registrations. The registrations will remain effective while the case is on appeal.

When the case first arose more than 20 years ago, a federal judge in the District of Columbia ruled on appeal in favor of the Washington Redskins and their trademark registrations.
Why?
As the district court’s ruling made clear in 2003, the evidence ‘is insufficient to conclude that during the relevant time periods the trademark at issue disparaged Native Americans…’ The court continued, ‘The Court concludes that the [Board’s] finding that the marks at issue ‘may disparage’ Native Americans is unsupported by substantial evidence, is logically flawed, and fails to apply the correct legal standard to its own findings of fact.’ Those aren’t my words. That was the court’s conclusion. We are confident that when a district court review’s today’s split decision, it will reach a similar conclusion.
In today’s ruling, the Board’s Marc Bergsman agreed, concluding in his dissenting opinion:
It is astounding that the petitioners did not submit any evidence regarding the Native American population during the relevant time frame, nor did they introduce any evidence or argument as to what comprises a substantial composite of that population thereby leaving it to the majority to make petitioner’s case have some semblance of meaning.
The evidence in the current claim is virtually identical to the evidence a federal judge decided was insufficient more than ten years ago. We expect the same ultimate outcome here.”
 

Captncoke49

Superior Member
Feb 8, 2006
510
2
0
Frederick,MD
#2
Eh, heard it all day on the radio. Overall it sounds like it will be the beginning of the end for the name. I had a feeling something was going to happen to push this whole thing further. Personally, I don't care either way. I like the team but I'm not a full blown fan(I'm a 49ers fan). The owner Dan Snyder makes a big deal over the tradition of the name and history but IMO I don't think any of that would be lost if the name was changed. If it happens, I think the Washington warriors would be good. Could keep the logo and it couldn't be considered offensive by anyone.
 
Jan 13, 2007
2,581
42
0
47
#5
What's this country coming to? How is this disrespectful to Indian heritage? Is it because they are terrible?

Waiting for when the Cowboys will have to change their name.

Sent from my SPH-L720 using Tapatalk
 

podsaurus

El Presidente
Jul 2, 2008
4,463
76
0
28
in a box
#7
Why? After all this time the team has been around and called the Redskins why bring this up now? Its just a name, get a thicker skin my goodness.
 
May 5, 2011
4,774
76
48
USA
#8
[QUOTE="chrisw26308, post: 6351840]What's this country coming to? How is this disrespectful to Indian heritage? Is it because they are terrible?

Waiting for when the Cowboys will have to change their name.

Sent from my SPH-L720 using Tapatalk[/QUOTE]

I think I can explain this.

Let's pretend for a second that you are black or have black ancestors.

Southern states like Mississippi have a history of slavery and etc.

So let's say Mississippi decides to get a NFL team and call them the "Mississippi Negros".

It's similar with the "Washington Redskins". The problem is that native americans or people with native american ancestors could easily get offended because "redskin" is a slur, could even be seen as a racial slur.

I could be wrong, but that's what I think the problem is.
 

Christopher

Community and Technical Manager
Staff member
Jun 1, 2007
11,930
101
63
48
Newnan, GA
#9
[QUOTE="The Black Wolf, post: 6352039]I think I can explain this.

Let's pretend for a second that you are black or have black ancestors.

Southern states like Mississippi have a history of slavery and etc.

So let's say Mississippi decides to get a NFL team and call them the "Mississippi Negros".

It's similar with the "Washington Redskins". The problem is that native americans or people with native american ancestors could easily get offended because "redskin" is a slur, could even be seen as a racial slur.

I could be wrong, but that's what I think the problem is.[/QUOTE]

Yeah, that is how I see it. I don't see anything wrong with names like Seminoles or Braves. Would anyone walk up to a native American and call them a redskin? Unless you just wanted to be a jerk.....I doubt it.
 

Omar

Forum Overseer
May 29, 2005
34,262
181
0
37
Addison, TX.
#10
[QUOTE="The Black Wolf, post: 6352039]I think I can explain this.

Let's pretend for a second that you are black or have black ancestors.

Southern states like Mississippi have a history of slavery and etc.

So let's say Mississippi decides to get a NFL team and call them the "Mississippi Negros".

It's similar with the "Washington Redskins". The problem is that native americans or people with native american ancestors could easily get offended because "redskin" is a slur, could even be seen as a racial slur.

I could be wrong, but that's what I think the problem is.[/QUOTE]redskins can be seen as something negative by native americans however i don't think negro should be looked at as negative. it's connotations can be seen as negative and especially if someone uses it as a derogatory word.

it's like saying "gay" is offensive to "gays". it depends.

negro isn't defining a feature, it's just what is given to the african natives a (scientific) word to describe their race.

it means dark or the black color in various languages. who cares.

i don't care if someone calls me brown. it's just something to define my race with. in reality i'm south asian. my race is likely mixed, i don't even know my race other than that it's originated in India and likely from afghan/china/russian region. where i grew up (and india), we don't go by race (pakistan). we go by caste. though more relevant in india than pakistan.

anyway, i don't get why people get offended by every little thing. the moment we stop being offended is the moment we will start to appreciate one another.
 

Christopher

Community and Technical Manager
Staff member
Jun 1, 2007
11,930
101
63
48
Newnan, GA
#11
[QUOTE="Sufi, post: 6352044]redskins can be seen as something negative by native americans however i don't think negro should be looked at as negative. it's connotations can be seen as negative and especially if someone uses it as a derogatory word.

it's like saying "gay" is offensive to "gays". it depends.

negro isn't defining a feature, it's just what is given to the african natives a (scientific) word to describe their race.

it means dark or the black color in various languages. who cares.

i don't care if someone calls me brown. it's just something to define my race with. in reality i'm south asian. my race is likely mixed, i don't even know my race other than that it's originated in India and likely from afghan/china/russian region. where i grew up (and india), we don't go by race (pakistan). we go by caste. though more relevant in india than pakistan.

anyway, i don't get why people get offended by every little thing. the moment we stop being offended is the moment we will start to appreciate one another.[/QUOTE]

I'm a white male. I'm not allowed to be offended by race/sex slurs. :p

But black people ARE offended by the word "negro". Probably because it is a derivative of the N-word. It works both ways though. Don't go out of your way to be offensive and folks will be less likely to be offended.

I think your perspective being from Pakistan is different from others though. The caste system (from what my Indian friends tell me) is pretty defining.
 
Jan 13, 2007
2,581
42
0
47
#12
[QUOTE="Christopher, post: 6352043]Yeah, that is how I see it. I don't see anything wrong with names like Seminoles or Braves. Would anyone walk up to a native American and call them a redskin? Unless you just wanted to be a jerk.....I doubt it.[/QUOTE]
So, I thought the term redskins was a term like Seminole or brave. so the term redskins is the derogatory term then. now I get it.

Sent from my SPH-L720 using Tapatalk
 
Jan 13, 2007
2,581
42
0
47
#13
[QUOTE="The Black Wolf, post: 6352039]I think I can explain this.

Let's pretend for a second that you are black or have black ancestors.

Southern states like Mississippi have a history of slavery and etc.

So let's say Mississippi decides to get a NFL team and call them the "Mississippi Negros".

It's similar with the "Washington Redskins". The problem is that native americans or people with native american ancestors could easily get offended because "redskin" is a slur, could even be seen as a racial slur.

I could be wrong, but that's what I think the problem is.[/QUOTE]
I guess I'm not up on slang. I have a black friend and someone asked me why I hang out with that oreo. I didn't know what oreo meant and I asked said friend. He looked at me like I was crazy and said "my mom is white, my dad is black, get it now". I said Yep I get it.

Sent from my SPH-L720 using Tapatalk
 

Yuuichi

Miqo'te Bard
Oct 25, 2009
8,118
73
0
#14
[QUOTE="chrisw26308, post: 6352052]So, I thought the term redskins was a term like Seminole or brave. so the term redskins is the derogatory term then. now I get it.

Sent from my SPH-L720 using Tapatalk[/QUOTE]
even with brave they tried to make them,change thier name and,logo a bunch of years back.

I never saw redskin as a derogatory term because of this team name. but we are the country that banned original loony toons(not banned but never spoken of) because that was apparently racist even though I,don't know one kid who ever thought that.

on tap a talk on LG g2 and I suck at typing on phones so forgive my typo errors.
 

Omar

Forum Overseer
May 29, 2005
34,262
181
0
37
Addison, TX.
#15
[QUOTE="Christopher, post: 6352050]I'm a white male. I'm not allowed to be offended by race/sex slurs. :p [/quote]that's because blacks are being raised by parents who suffered from racial tensions and whites are being raised by people who are apologists and guilty of actions of other whites. yes, we should not forget history but can we just for a little while forget about everything and just live for who we are. not who our ancestors were.

But black people ARE offended by the word "negro". Probably because it is a derivative of the N-word. It works both ways though. Don't go out of your way to be offensive and folks will be less likely to be offended.
yeah, it's definitely because the word was changed into the N word. and it's derived from that. and that's what i meant when i said connotation. but you know it's a slippery slope. black people use the N word themselves now because they want to get over it. that's what i think it is. and i think it's good to do that. we should all be saying it in a positive way. i say it to my friend all the time, but i say nigga not the other one.

and i talk in ebonics about 30% of my conversations. i use whatever i feel fits for the moment. if we don't stop belonging to a group, we'll always have issues and rivalries. it's ok to be from a group and even be proud (from a realistic perspective) but we need to stop grouping ourselves into "our people", our race, our religion, class, neighbourhood, gang, family, status, country etc. those things imo worked when we didn't have ways to survive without grouping together, but now we don't really need it and it actually cases too many issues.

I think your perspective being from Pakistan is different from others though. The caste system (from what my Indian friends tell me) is pretty defining.
it's a lot more defining in India where you can be from a caste and your life is already written in stone according to that caste. we don't do that. caste is see as a semi status symbol by some but it doesn't matter which caste you're from, you can do whatever you want.
 

Vulgotha

Power Member
Jan 6, 2007
15,776
148
0
28
#16
Sigh. I was born in Maryland, all of my family (and extended family) are enormous Redskins fans. This is not the first time they've tried to do this, and it likely won't be the last because this will probably be destroyed just like past attempts.

I asked my father about it, he said: "
the board of the US patent office has done this twice before. Once in 1999 and again in 2003. Both times the board lost when the Redskins appealed the idiotic decision. Technically, the board should lose again as they do not have a legal leg to stand on. However, these are very different times."

As I understand it, most Native Americans don't think the name is offensive. There are a few who do of course, but by no means is there any kind of consensus on the issue.


By the way, food for thought here:

The name Oklahoma comes from the Choctaw phrase okla humma, literally meaning red people. Choctaw Chief Allen Wright suggested the name in 1866 during treaty negotiations with the federal government regarding the use of Indian Territory, in which he envisioned an all-Indian state controlled by the United States Superintendent of Indian Affairs. Equivalent to the English word Indian, okla humma was a phrase in the Choctaw language used to describe the Native American race as a whole. Oklahoma later became the de facto name for Oklahoma Territory, and it was officially approved in 1890, two years after the area was opened to white settlers.


Or is this OK because a native american suggested it?
 
Last edited: