Image

12:34 PM / Saturday July 2, 2022

20 Jun 2014

Trademark board rules against Redskins name

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
June 20, 2014 Category: Week In Review Posted by:

By Joseph White

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Patent Office ruled Wednesday that the Washington Redskins nickname is “disparaging of Native Americans” and that the team’s federal trademarks for the name must be canceled.

The 2-1 ruling comes after a campaign to change the name gained momentum over the past year. The team doesn’t immediately lose trademark protection and is allowed to retain it during an appeal, which is likely.

Redskins owner Dan Snyder has refused to change the team’s name, citing tradition, but there has been growing pressure including statements in recent months from President Barack Obama, lawmakers of both parties and civil rights groups.

The decision means that the team can continue to use the Redskins name, but it would lose a significant portion of its ability to protect the financial interests connected to its use. If others printed the name on sweatshirts, apparel, or other team material, it becomes more difficult to go after groups who use it without permission.

The case involves six registered trademarks that involve the use of the word Redskins, but it does not apply to the team’s logo.

The decision by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board is similar to one it issued in 1999. That ruling was overturned in 2003 in large part on a technicality after the courts decided that the plaintiffs should have filed their complaint soon after the Redskins registered their nickname in 1967.

The new case was launched in 2006 by a younger group of Native Americans, and was heard by the board in March of last year.

The group argued that the Redskins should lose their federal trademark protection based on a law that prohibits registered names that are disparaging, scandalous, contemptuous or disreputable.

Suzan Shown Harjo, one of the plaintiffs who testified at last year’s hearing, said she was “thrilled and delighted” with the decision. Snyder declined to speak to reporters as he walked off the practice field, but the team said it planned to release a statement later in the day.

In Washington, lawmakers who have pushed for a name change applauded the decision. In May, half of the Senate wrote letters to the NFL urging the team to change its name.

“Daniel Snyder may be the last person in the world to realize this, but it’s just a matter of time until he is forced to do the right thing and change the name,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has said previously he will not attend home games until the team changes its name.

This decision by the TTAB does not necessarily put an end to the larger dispute between the parties, as Pro Football, Inc. may seek review by a federal court of today’s decision. The registrations will remain “on the federal register of marks” and not be listed in the USPTO’s records as “cancelled” until after any judicial review is completed.

•  What this decision means: if the cancellation of the registrations for the trademarks involved in this case is not appealed or if affirmed following possible review by a federal court, Pro Football, Inc., as record owner of the involved registrations will lose the legal benefits conferred by federal registration of the marks. These benefits of federal registration include:

— the legal presumptions of ownership and of a nationwide scope of rights in these trademarks;

— the ability to use the federal registration ® symbol, and;

Image

—  the ability to record the registrations with the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Service so as to block the importation of infringing or counterfeit foreign goods.

•  What this decision does not mean: this decision does not, however, require the Washington D.C. professional football team to change its name or stop using the trademarks at issue in this case.

— Losing the federal registration of a trademark does not necessarily mean that the owner loses all legal rights in the mark. This is because trademark rights in the United States come from use of a mark on or in conjunction with goods or services, not merely from the additional, optional step of federal registration.

— The TTAB determines only whether a mark can be registered with the federal government (and thus gain the additional legal benefits thereof), not whether it can be used.

— The mark owner may still have rights in the mark based on use, known as “common law” rights – and those use-based rights may continue to exist even if a federal registration is cancelled.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Leave a Comment

Recent News

Stateside

Just the beginning

July 1, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email Over 150,000 people from around the country participated in the Mass Poor Peoples...

Commentary

Commentary
The fine print

July 1, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email While we do need to pay attention to Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s...

Education

Community College of Philadelphia to pay off $1.4 million in outstanding student account balances

June 17, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email Community College of Philadelphia announced that it will pay off more than $1.4...

Color Of Money

Americans still have financial goals, just not sure how they will reach them

June 24, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email BPT If you have a vision for where you’d like to be financially...

Politics

Takeaways: Trump’s mind ‘made up’ on fraud ahead of Jan. 6

June 17, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: A video exhibit plays as the House select committee investigating the...

Go With The-Flo

Sherri Shepherd’s talk show, “Sherri,” to air in place of former “The Wendy Williams Show”

June 17, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: Sherri Shepherd (Photo: s_bukley / Shutterstock) By Flo Anthony After 13...

The Philadelphia Sunday Sun Staff