Washington Redskins File Appeal in Federal Court Against USPTO Trademark Decision

It isn’t only IT, telecom and biotech giants who are involved in patent disputes. The Washington Redskins recently had their trademark registration revoked and have now decided to appeal the decision made by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Earlier in June, the USPTO ruled that the Redskin’s trademark protections be canceled, which can have an impact on its financial interests. The ruling was on the basis that the current name of the team was disparaging to Native Americans.

Not a Good Fight

Five Native Americans who represented four tribes filed a case against the Redskins in 2006. In its petition, the group argued that the Redskins should be stripped of federal trademark protection since the law prohibits the use of registered names that are horrendous, unprofessional, insulting, and borderline racist. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, the independent tribunal within the USPTO, in its 2-1 ruling in June stated that its task was to determine only if the trademark was offensive to the Native Americans and not the entire US population. Washington Redskins’ owner Daniel Snyder, who is now under significant pressure to change the team’s name, has decided to go ahead with the appeal.

The ruling stated that the petitioners found evidence that a significant amount of Native Americans found the term Redskins to be disapproving in connection with professional football. The current ruling includes Redskins name and past logos while the canceled trademarks do not include the team’s current logo. According to the ruling, if the NFL and Redskins lose an appeal in the US District Court their trademarks registered between 1967 and 1990 will no longer be protected.

The Owners need to Wake Up

Patent lawyers for the Redskins are confident of successfully overturning the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s ruling when they file an appeal. The team’s trademarks will continue to be valid while during the period. One of the team’s patent attorneys cited an earlier case where the Redskins’ trademark registrations were cancelled by the Board but the decision was reversed by a federal court.

You have no Credibility Reid

Several Democratic senators have encouraged the team’s management to make a name change. The Senate has several options which include cancellation of the league’s tax-exempt status. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is of the opinion that it was a matter of time before Snyder is forced to do the right thing. He also said he would not attend any of the team’s home games unless they change their name. This is the same person who is responsible for millions of black Americans, Americans of all races, being unemployed or underemployed. This is the same senator who refuses to balance a budget or make the tax code easier for all Americans. Reid is a joke and most Americans know this.

Native American leaders including Oneida Indian Nation representative Ray Halbritter said the USPTO has reaffirmed the obvious truth that Native Americans along with several other civil rights leaders, other groups, and Members of Congress and the president have echoed, which is that private companies cannot use taxpayer resources to profit off the promotion of dictionary defined racial slurs. They hoped the patent ruling will convince the team and the NFL to stop using what they consider a hateful slur, if their sense of morality and decency does not.

The Redskin owners need to change their name. The name has been insulting for decades. Whomever thought of this name was stupid. But Harry Reid is a fool too on a massive account. What he says does not matter.

The Redskin owners need to change their name. The name has been insulting for decades. Whomever thought of this name was stupid. But Harry Reid is a fool too on a massive account. What he says does not matter.

Design New Jerseys

There is plenty at stake for the Washington Redskins post the ruling, which includes revenue from merchandizing. Without protection, anyone can produce and sell the team’s gear without having to pay royalties. If they lose their rights to the trademarks, the value of being an official sponsor will be brought to naught. The Redskins are an integral part of league sales with its jerseys among the top selling in NFL history. The question whether state and common laws will permit them to retain exclusivity of use of their trademarks also remains.

Wasting Money

The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Alexandria by Redskins’ patent lawyers includes arguments that the USPTO violated the Washington Redskins’ First and Fifth Amendment rights. The Redskins’ are in essence, asking for the opportunity to defend their name, which according to them, celebrates Native Americans. The team’s patent attorneys are likely to introduce fresh evidence that has until now been restricted to the patent office. Since it is a federal district case the team will have another opportunity to appeal if it loses.