"Washington Redskins" Trademarks Cancelled by U.S. Patent Office, Because They're Slurs, Duh
In a ruling sure to make ripples, six Washington Redskins trademarks were cancelled by the U.S. Patent Office on Wednesday. The USPTO said that the name is “disparaging to Native Americans” and therefore can't be trademarked under federal law — although the move only affects the right to register the trademarks (and therefore mainly a financial development), it nonetheless makes a clear and direct point: using the term "Redskins" is offensive and disparaging. Duh.
“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 board said in their Wednesday ruling, according to the Washington Post. Under federal law, trademark protection on offensive or disparaging language is prohibited.
The board added:
The record establishes that, 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 including 1967, 1972, 1974, 1978, and 1990. Thirty percent is without doubt a substantial composite. To determine otherwise means it is acceptable to subject to disparagement 1 out of every 3 individuals.
This isn't the first time that the team's trademark protections have been removed by the board. Back in 1992, the USPTO also found that the trademarks were offensive, but the ruling was overturned because of a technicality, ThinkProgress reports.
Since then, it's been a long, hard battle, one that Redskins owner Dan Snyder has repeatedly refused to give in to. In the end, though Wednesday's ruling won't make the team change their name or stop them from actually using the slur, it's still a clear victory — hopefully one that will lead to greater change in the future.