On Wednesday, the United States Patent and Trademark Office canceled six of the Washington Redskins’ federal trademarks in a 2-1 verdict. The decision stated, “Petitioners have shown by a preponderance of the evidence that a substantial composite of Native Americans found the term REDSKINS to be disparaging.”
While the cancellation won’t force the National Football League to change the team’s name, it does give ground to those who find the term “Redskins” to be a derogatory racial slur. It also weakens the Redskins’ legal protection, and allows counterfeit Redskins merchandise to be sold in the United States.
Once the trademark decision had been made, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took to the Senate floor to express his opinion, saying, “the handwriting is on the wall.” Reid went on to say that the Redskins’ owner, Daniel Snyder, might be the last person in the world to realize that his team’s name is “racist,” but that “it is just a matter of time until he is forced to do the right thing and change the name.”
Washington Redskins attorneys stated that the team would appeal. Team attorney, Robert Raskopf stated that just as the team prevailed on appeal in an earlier iteration of the case, he was confident that they would succeed once again. “This case is no different than an earlier case, where the Board cancelled the Redskins’ trademark registrations, and where a federal district court disagreed and reversed the Board,” said Raskopf.
The controversy over the Redskins’ team name has been an ongoing one, and when Daniel Snyder was asked by USA TODAY in May 2013, if he would consider changing his team’s name, should they lose their federal trademark, his response was: “NEVER, you can use caps.”