Dan Synder can boast all he wants of the proud tradition underpinning the use of the Redskins’ name, but the minute he can’t make money off of it, you best believe that name is going away with the quickness. And so those who would like to see the Redskins name get changed must be hearted by this ruling by the Patent and Trademark Office that the name is offensive.
The U.S. PTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board issued a ruling in the case, brought against the team by plaintiff Amanda Blackhorse, Wednesday morning.
“We 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,” the board wrote in its opinion.
“The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board agreed with our clients that the team’s name and trademarks disparage Native Americans. The Board ruled that the Trademark Office should never have registered these trademarks in the first place,” Jesse Witten, the plaintiffs’ lead attorney, said in a press release. “We presented a wide variety of evidence – including dictionary definitions and other reference works, newspaper clippings, movie clips, scholarly articles, expert linguist testimony, and evidence of the historic opposition by Native American groups – to demonstrate that the word ‘redskin’ is an ethnic slur.”
Dan Snyder will most certainly appeal. The Redskins’ name was previously rejected by the same board in 1999 based on a 1992 lawsuit, only for a federal court to overturn that ruling due to “a technicality that the plaintiffs say has been fixed in this most recent case”. Should the ban hold up on appeal, the Redskins would be forced to change the name or face a situation where they’d have no control over their brand. There’s no way the NFL would accept a name that they don’t have the trademark for. All that supposedly proud tradition team personnel has spoken of disappears in a hurry if the money does as well.
Not that Dan Snyder doesn’t have a contingency plan. Snyder had the name “Washington Warriors” trademarked almost 15 years ago.