In the latest development in the Washington Redskins name controversy, the team was dealt a significant blow on Wednesday, as the United States Patent and Trademark Office decided to cancel the team’s trademarks on the basis that the name is disparaging to Native Americans. The decision is seen as a major victory for those who are proponents of a name change for the D.C. franchise.
The ruling handed down does essentially two things: first, it eliminates the protection of the name under the USPTO, which could contribute to the team losing money that it would make if the name was protected. Also, trademarks between the years of 1967 (the year that the team registered the name with the USPTO) and 1990 will no longer be protected under federal law if the league and the Redskins either stand pat, or decide to appeal the decision, which representatives for the team have already said they will.
Native Americans have been fighting for years to get the name changed, but they are now getting a lot of support from people outside of the community. Former players, lawmakers and even President Obama have come out and advised that team owner Daniel Snyder change the name.
But despite the pressure coming from several different sources, Snyder has continuously expressed his unwillingness to change the name. Almost immediately after the ruling on Wednesday, the trademark attorney for the team issued a statement saying that the team was going to appeal the decision. This isn’t anything new for the franchise, as it lost trademark rights back in 1999, only to regain the rights four years later thanks to a successful appeal. Trademark attorney Bob Raskopf says that he expects a similar result this time around.
While Daniel Snyder seems hell-bent on keeping the team name, if he starts suffering financially, then he might take greater consideration into giving in and changing the name.