The internet is abuzz today with news that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office cancelled six trademarks for the Washington Redskins team name.
In the majority ruling, the office's Trademark Trial and Appeal Board wrote that they “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.”
When the news broke, many assumed the board’s ruling would be a major step towards the Redskins changing their controversial name – and it ultimately could be. But the Redskins wasted no time today issuing a response in which they said the ruling will have little effect on the team.
Bob Raskopf, the Redskins’ trademark attorney, wrote in a statement that this isn’t the first time the Patent Office tried to deny Washington trademark rights to the name.
“We’ve seen this story before,” his statement reads. “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.”
Raskopf went on to say “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.”
Raskopf insists the same factors that led a federal judge to overturn the Board’s decision in 2003 will apply this time around as well.
In that 2003 decision, the federal judge said “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.”
Raskopf and the Redskins argue that “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.”
So, here we go again. Owner Dan Snyder has insisted for years now that the name will never change, and he seems hell bent on keeping that promise. This one is far from over.