Will the Washington Redskins name change debate in 2014 now be considered more seriously by the NFL team now that they could potentially lose money after losing the trademark?
In a related report by The Inquisitr, the effort to force the Washington Redskins name change was stepped up a notch recently when 50 Democratic Senators, plus Harry Reid, signed a letter to the NFL asking them to force the Redskins owners to change their name, and they even compared the situation to the racist owner of the NBA’s Clippers. Redskins team President Bruce Allen claimed they have “always been respectful of and shown reverence toward the proud legacy and traditions of Native Americans,” and owner Daniel Snyder claimed only 10 percent of Native Americans support a Redskins name change based upon polling data.
In the end, it was not politicians but the United States Trademark Trial and Appeal Board who may force the decision. In contrast to Snyder’s claims about polling data, the USPTO claims that a good third of all native Americans find the Redskins name to represent an ethnic slur:
“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…. 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.”
But in the end, it was a petition by five native Americans that made this decision possible, and now the question remains what impact it will have over the long term.
Washington Democratic Senator Maria Cartwell claims the Washington Redskins name change could be forced over lost merchandise revenue:
“This puts a big dent in their business model of trying to gain revenue from a disparaging term of slur. I find it very unlikely that someone is going to overrule the patent office on this. This is a huge decision by a federal agency.”
But trademark lawyer Monica Riva Talley says this is not the case, although it’s possible the debate may change slightly:
“This decision does not mean that the Redskins trademark is no longer enforceable, or that third parties will now be able to sell Redskins merchandise. What it may do is help sway public opinion as to whether a sports team, much less one located in the nation’s capital, should use a term found to disparage a segment of the population.”
Now the cost of making a Washington Redskins name change is said to be a “drop in the bucket” since the NFL team generates $1.7 billion, and is the third most valuable football franchise. Allen Adamson, managing director of Landor Associates, claims that a new Washington Redskins name change idea could be implemented with only a small portion of their income:
“The biggest cost is not developing a new name and mark. The biggest cost by far is applying it to all the points of touch that a brand like the Redskins exists on: merchandise, signage, training facilities and the stadium. That would be several million dollars, probably under $5 million. They can do it aggressively in six months, sometimes even less. Sometimes it can take a couple years to do the transition.”
So far it appears the Redskins team will be appealing the USPTO decision, and it’s possible this case could go all the way to the Supreme Court. Bob Raskopf, trademark attorney for the Washington Redskins, released a statement that seemed to say that the owners will fight to keep their name:
“We’ve seen this story before. And just like last time [in 1967], today’s ruling will have no effect at all on the team’s ownership of and right to use the Redskins name and logo.”
Would you support a Washington Redskins name change, or do you think this is an example of political correctness gone too far?