Trademarks held by the Washington Redskins have been canceled following a “landmark ruling” this morning by The United States Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.
All in all, the Washington Redskins held six federal trademarks related to their highly controversial name, and all were ordered canceled in the USPTO’s ruling.
In an opinion, the USPTO board explained the decision to cancel the six trademarks, citing their offensive nature:
“We decide, based on the evidence properly before us, that these registrations must be cancelled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered.”
According to the Washington Post, lawyers arguing for the cancellation of the Redskins’ trademarks believe that the offensive name should never have been issued protections in the first place.
Attorney Jesse Witten explains, “The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board agreed with our clients that the team’s name and trademarks disparage Native Americans. The Board ruled that the Trademark Office should never have registered these trademarks in the first place…”
“We presented a wide variety of evidence – including dictionary definitions and other reference works, newspaper clippings, movie clips, scholarly articles, expert linguist testimony, and evidence of the historic opposition by Native American groups – to demonstrate that the word ‘redskin’ is an ethnic slur. This victory was a long time coming and reflects the hard work of many attorneys at our firm.”
In part, the USPTO’s decision read:
“The record establishes that, at a minimum, approximately thirty percent of Native Americans found the term REDSKINS used in connection with respondent’s services to be disparaging at all times including 1967, 1972, 1974, 1978 and 1990. Section 2(a) prohibits registration of matter that disparages a substantial composite, which need not be a majority, of the referenced group. Thirty percent is without doubt a substantial composite. To determine otherwise means it is acceptable to subject to disparagement 1 out of every 3 individuals, or as in this case approximately 626,095 out of 1,878,285 in 1990.”
The decision was widely praised on social media sites like Twitter, but some joked about the USPTO’s intervention to hobble the Redskins via trademark cancellation:
Look out Dallas Cowpersons, you’re next.
— Matthew (@Matthops82) June 18, 2014
“On behalf of those professionals in the moving industry, we object to the offensive name ‘Packers.'”
— Miké Ramoné (@ThePantau) June 18, 2014
Others waited for word from the official Washington Redskins Twitter feed, which has been oddly silent on the big ruling this morning — instead posting videos of training sessions:
The Redskins say they will issue a statement on the ruling. “When the statement comes out, you’ll get it,” Bruce Allen said.
— MarkMaske (@MarkMaske) June 18, 2014
The Redskins are expected to appeal the trademark cancellation, but as of now, no statement has been given by the team.