Redskins’ Name Issue Supported by Federal Courts, Again in the News

This article is especially important now that this issue is in the news. It’s message correctly describes the term “Redskins” as relating only to the football team of that name and to no ethnic population.

Redskins Trademark Case.

    The most interesting trademark case in sports involved the NFL Washington Redskins and that same issue is suddenly on the front page in 2013. In 1995, the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board (“T.T.A.B.”) canceled the six variations of “The Redskins” that had been filed on various occasions up to thirty years before. The basis for the cancellation was that the marks “ may disparage Native Americans or “bring them into contempt, or disrepute.” Harjo v. Pro-Football, Inc, 50 U.S.P.Q.2d 1705, 1749 (T.T.A.B. 1999) (“Harjo II”).  The appeal was heard in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly.  The Judge is careful to indicate that her decision does not settle the issue of whether those trademarks are disparaging but only decides the legal sufficiency of the TTAB’s decision and whether a laches (too much delay) defense is appropriate…

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