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Washington Redskins Lose Trademark Protection of Their Name and Logo – Fair or Wrong?

Washington Redskins
Ezra Shaw, Getty Images

The U.S. Patent Office, in a ruling on Wednesday has canceled all trademarks associated with the Washington Redskins name and logo, ruling the nickname is “disparaging of Native Americans.” Pressure has mounted over the last 12 months on team owner Daniel Snyder to do the right thing and change the name of the iconic NFL franchise. Snyder has been steadfast in his refusal to change the name and claims the nickname is meant as a sign of respect and is not intended, nor has it ever been intended to be offensive or insulting to Native Americans.

I wrote a blog about this very topic within the last two weeks after a new ad surfaced coming out against the nickname that actually aired during the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs. Read the blog and see the ad here.

While there has been great debate about whether or not the name is offensive, most American English dictionaries define the term as “usually offensive”, “disparaging”, “insulting” and even “taboo”. While some Native American groups are not necessarily offended by the term, most believe the name should be changed.

By losing trademark protection, other groups or individuals might be able to use the name and logo for profit without the permission of Washington Redskins. However, the Redskins will be able to retain their protection if they appeal and would maintain that protection during the appeals process. It is expected the team will appeal this ruling. This is an ongoing story and we will keep you updated.

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