U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Rescinds Redskins Trademark
This past week the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rescinded federal trademark protection for the Redskins. Washington’s football team had the name for over 80 years but it was taken away for “disparaging Native Americans.”
For a title to be disparaging, a substantial amount of Native Americans must be offended – not necessarily a majority. The judges defined that as 30 per cent. After hearing from experts, the board ruled 2:1 that the term was disparaging to Native Americans.
In their ruling they cited that trademark law “prohibits registration of marks that may disparage persons or bring them into contempt or disrepute.”
The Redskins are appealing the verdict, but even if they lose their trademark, they can still use their name. However, the ruling doesn’t apply to the team’s American Indian head logo.
Without a trademark, it will be more difficult for the team to go after those who print the Redskins name on gear without permission. If the ruling is upheld, it is estimated to cost the team tens of millions per year.