The campaign to have the Redskins change their controversial name notched up another win today after a federal judge ordered a stop to the Washington Redskins’ federal trademark registrations.
The NFL team has been battling calls by Native American activists for decades to change its name which the activists claim are racist and disparaging.
The trademark registration cancellation order can not go into effect until the Redskins organization has exhausted all available appeals processes. Team President Bruce Allen said his organization would appeal today’s decision.
“We are convinced that we will win on appeal as the facts and the law are on the side of our franchise that has proudly used the name Washington Redskins for more than 80 years,” said Allen.
Legal expert said that even if the Redskins take the case all the way to the Supreme Court and lose, it can still use “Redskins” and seek state law trademark protection.
Today U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee affirmed last year’s ruling by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board which said because the team name was offensive to Native Americans, it was not able to have federal trademark protection.
Lee threw out the team’s argument that between 1967 and 1990 when the trademarks were granted, most Native Americans did not object to the name. He questioned why the NFL team ever chose the name, citing the Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary 1898 definition of Redskins as “often contemptuous”, which he said was “seventy years prior to the registration of the first Redskins Mark”.
Lee however said the team does not have stop using its name or selling team gear emblazoned with the word Redskins.
One of the attorneys for the Native Americans activists Jesse Witten said after the court decision that “This is a huge victory. Getting this ruling from a U.S. District judge is a watershed event”.
Bruce Allen said the team would never change its name.