NFL — 18 June 2014
U.S. Patent Office Cancels Redskins Trademark Registration

The Washington Redskins name controversy just took an interesting turn. The United States patent office has canceled the “Redskins” trademark registration, calling the name “disparaging to Native Americans,” according to the Washington Post.

It’s unclear as to what exactly this means long-term. This doesn’t force a name change, of course, but reading between the lines, it sounds like anyone has free reign to sell “Redskins” apparel and not face any sort of legal recourse since the brand is no longer protected. If that’s the case, surely team owner Dan Snyder can’t be happy with this.

“This victory was a long time coming and reflects the hard work of many attorneys at our firm,” said lead attorney Jesse Witten, of Drinker Biddle & Reath.

Federal trademark law does not permit registration of trademarks that “may disparage” individuals or groups or “bring them into contempt or disrepute.” The ruling pertains to six different trademarks associated with the team, each containing the word “Redskin.”

 “We are extraordinarily gratified to have prevailed in this case,” Alfred Putnam Jr., the chairman of Drinker Biddle & Reath, said. “The dedication and professionalism of our attorneys and the determination of our clients have resulted in a milestone victory that will serve as an historic precedent.”

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