The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has canceled the Washington Redskins' trademark. Federal trademark law does not permit registration of trademarks that "may disparage" individuals or groups. Here's a look at the Redskins' logo and team imagery throughout the years.
The ruling came from the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board on Blackhorse v. Pro-Football Inc., a case case filed on behalf of five Native Americans in 2006. (Via U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ) It cites a "near complete drop-off" in usage of the term in reference to Native Americans since the 1960s. "At a minimum, approximately thirty percent of Native Americans found the term REDSKINS used in connection with respondent's services to be disparaging at all times." (Via U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ) That's about 1 in 3 Native Americans who find the team's name offensive. While the board also acknowledged there are dissenting voices within the Native American community, it says, "once a substantial composite has been found, the mere existence of differing opinions cannot change the conclusion." ( Via Flcikr / Joseph Glorioso Photography , U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ) The decision was first reported by ThinkProgress , who quotes Amanda Blackhorse, the plaintiff in the case. She said, "I am extremely happy that the [Board] ruled in our favor. … I hope this ruling brings us a step closer to that inevitable day when the name of the Washington football team will be changed." Controversy surrounding the team's name reached a new high last season. While Washington's owner Dan Snyder wrote a letter, saying, "It is a symbol of everything we stand for: strength, courage, pride and respect." (Via ESPN ) Demonstrators gathered outside of stadiums, protesting the name. (Via YouTube / US Freedom Club ) Sportswriters weighed in on both sides. (Via ESPN ) Even the president got involved , suggesting the team think about changing its name. But so far, nothing has changed. The NFL's senior vice president of law and labor policy told ESPN last month – "The team name is not a slur. The team name is the team name, as it has been for 80+ years." (Via ESPN ) A group of senators disagrees. Last month, they sent a letter to the NFL asking for a name change. (Via The New York Times ) Sen. Harry Reid was among the group that signed it. "For far too long the NFL has been sitting on its hands doing nothing while and entire population of Americans has been denegraded." (Via CBS ) Wednesday's ruling certainly falls more in line with Reid's sentiments, but don't expect to see a new name and mascot soon. SB Nation reports the team can still appeal and use the trademarked name during that time. Of course, should this potential appeal fail, the team might need to switch things up and not just because the name has been ruled disparaging. (Via Flickr / Joseph Glorioso Photography ) Deadspin writes no trademark means anyone could use the team's logo and start selling Redskins gear. " If money talks, a trademark cancellation shouts." Snyder and the organization have yet to comment on the ruling, but Snyder has held fast to his position to not change the name in the past despite opposition.
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"77 Years of Redskins Branding"