Washington Redskins Team Loses Trademark Ruling In Federal Court

The Washington Redskins, of the National Football League (NFL), have lost their latest battle in the legal challenge to their name, the Washington Post reports.

Affirming the ruling last year by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee also ruled the named "Redskins" is offensive to Native Americans and therefore not eligible to be trademarked by the team.

The appeals board had last ruled the name was not eligible for trademark protection after five Native American activists had filed with the board for such a ruling. The group is lead by Arizona resident and Native American activist Amanda Blackhorse, of Navajo Nation, who has lead several protests against the Redskins outside of stadiums were they play.

The Redskins have argued that the First Amendment protects their right to use the name and have it trademarked. The team is reviewing the ruling and will consider what legal options to pursue after this ruling.

"The Redskins have been waging a legal war to defend their federal trademark registrations for more than two decades. The fight began in 1992, when a group of Native Americans led by Suzan Shown Harjo filed a petition with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to strip the team's name of its registrations. Seven years later, the panel ruled in Harjo's favor," the Washington Post reported.

The Supreme Court might be the next option for the Redskins to legally keep their trademark, the Washington Examiner reports. The team has lost two major battles of the name, the first before the Patent and Trademark Office, and then this latest legal setback in federal court. The team can still use the name but they would not have trademark claim over it if they ultimately lose the trademark. Their last option might be a challenge before the U.S. Supreme Court to the federal court ruling on the issue.

George Washington University Law School Professor John Banzhaf, said the decision could hit the team financially, starting that the federal court ruling "means that, although the team may continue to use the name and associated trademarks, it will be much harder to stop others from using it, and thereby cutting into the team's revenue."

Banzhaf has supported forcing the team to change its name, but most fans in polls have supported the team keeping the name, but he also stated, "Today's ruling may provide a 'perfect storm' which the racist word may not be able to weather," comparing the challenge to the Redskins name to the opposition to the displaying of the Confederate flag.

The Redskins could appeal Judge Lee's ruling before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, USA Today reports. Regardless of what it is filed, the team will appeal the ruling and attempt to maintain their legal trademark over the name.

Redskins owner Dan Snyder says he will never change the name, the Inquisitr reports, and states he will maintain the name because of the history and heritage of the team. Snyder has also stated in the past that the name honors Native Americans.

[Redskins helmet photo by Al Messerschmidt for Getty Images.]