Redskins Appeal Rejection of Controversial Name's Trademark

The Redskins will retain their trademark as the case moves through the courts. 

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On Thursday, the Washington Redskins appealed the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board's June 18 ruling that stripped the team of six federal trademark registrations on the grounds that the name was offensive to Native Americans.

The team released a statement, which was shared by Comcast Sportsnet in D.C.

Today the Washington Redskins NFL team filed its appeal of the split decision of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (the “Board”) ordering cancellation of the Washington Redskins’ long-held federal trademark registrations.  The appeal is in the form of a complaint, effectively starting the litigation anew, this time in a federal court before a federal judge, and not in the administrative agency that issued the recent split decision."

The Redskins will retain their trademark as the case moves through the courts. Meanwhile, the team has been digging in despite increased criticism from many members of Congress, perhaps most vocally from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who recently declined an invitation to attend a Redskins home game.

In May, 50 U.S. Senators, including Reid, penned a letter to N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell asking that he officially call on the team to change their name.

“The N.F.L. can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur,” the letter said. 

Team owner Daniel Snyder has maintained the name is not offensive. "It's just historical truths, and I'd like [Native Americans] to understand, as I think most do, that the name really means honor, respect," he told E.S.P.N.'s John Barr on August 6. "A Redskin is a football player. A Redskin is our fans. The Washington Redskins fan base represents honor, represents respect, represents pride," he said.

In 1999, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board issued a similar ruling against the Redskins, which was later overturned in 2003 on appeal in Harjo v. Pro Football Inc.

"This effort is doomed to fail," the lead plaintiff Amanda Blackhorse told the Associated Press. "But if they want to prolong this litigation which has already gone on for 22 years, I guess they have that prerogative."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.