Patent office rejects Washington Redskins’ trademark registration

Responding to a complaint by Native Americans, the office nixed the NFL team’s name as ‘disparaging.’ The franchise vows to appeal.

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For years, the Washington Redskins’ team name has stirred up controversy of the sort no brand wants, with Native American groups calling it racist and offensive.

Today, critics who have demanded that the NFL team jettison the name have won a crucial battle. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the team’s trademark registration, calling it “disparaging to Native Americans.”

“This victory was a long time coming,” lead attorney Jesse Witten of Drinker Biddle & Reath told The Washington Post. The paper explains the decision:

Federal trademark law does not permit registration of trademarks that “may disparage” individuals or groups or “bring them into contempt or disrepute.” The ruling pertains to six different trademarks associated with the team, each containing the word “Redskin.”

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