By: Holly Gonzalez
TYLER, TX (KLTV) – For years, some people have been trying to get the Washington Redskins to change their name because they say they find it offensive. Wednesday, those people earned an ally in the United States Patent and Trademark Office because it canceled the Redskins’ trademark registration, calling the football team’s name “disparaging to Native Americans.”
“We’re such a minority. We make up one percent of the population. People think that they can be offensive toward tribal members,” said Carlos Bullock of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas.
Today’s ruling will not force the Redskins to change the name of the team, but it does affect whether the team can make money on the merchandise they sell.
“Other people will be able to sell similar-looking products without the protection of the registered mark to help stop counterfeiting,” said patent attorney Randall Garteiser.
The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s decision to cancel the Washington Redskins’ trademarks came after five Native Americans brought suit because they found the term “redskins” derogatory.
Garteiser says Pro Football Inc., the owner of those trademarks, will likely file an appeal.
“One of the issues on the appeal will be what is the relevant time frame of when the mark was considered disparaging. So, is it when it’s filed, which arguably seems like it should be, or is it some later date, and when does that stop?” he said.
The Washington Redskins’ trademarks were actually canceled once before in 1992. That decision was overturned on appeal. Now, the U.S. Patent Office has attempted to avoid a repeat of this by backing up their decision with substantial evidence.