Whoa “USPTO just cancelled the Redskins trademarks!”


kken comments in the rant/revel:

“USPTO just cancelled the Redskins trademarks. Suck it Snyder.”


“As explained below, we decide, based on the evidence properly before us, that these registrations must be cancelled be cause they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered, in violation of Section 2(a) of the Trademark Act of 1946, 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a). This decision concerns only the statutory right to registration under Section 2(a). We lack statutory authority to issue rulings concerning the right to use trademarks.”

So for our lawyers out there what exactly does that mean?

You can read the full ruling here.

Update Statement by Bob Raskopf, Trademark Attorney for the Washington Redskins:

“The following is a statement by Bob Raskopf, trademark attorney for the Washington Redskins, regarding today’s split decision by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board:

“We’ve seen this story before. And just like last time, today’s ruling will have no effect at all on the team’s ownership of and right to use the Redskins name and logo.

‘Redskins Are Denied Trademarks’

-Washington Post, April 3, 1999

‘Redskins Can Keep Trademark, Judge Rules’

-Washington Post, October 2, 2003

We are confident we will prevail once again, and that the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s divided ruling will be overturned on appeal. 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.

As today’s dissenting opinion correctly states, “the same evidence previously found insufficient to support cancellation” here “remains insufficient” and does not support cancellation.

This ruling – which of course we will appeal – simply addresses the team’s federal trademark registrations, and the team will continue to own and be able to protect its marks without the registrations. The registrations will remain effective while the case is on appeal.

When the case first arose more than 20 years ago, a federal judge in the District of Columbia ruled on appeal in favor of the Washington Redskins and their trademark registrations.


As the district court’s ruling made clear in 2003, the evidence ‘is insufficient to conclude that during the relevant time periods the trademark at issue disparaged Native Americans…’ The court continued, ‘The Court concludes that the [Board’s] finding that the marks at issue ‘may disparage’ Native Americans is unsupported by substantial evidence, is logically flawed, and fails to apply the correct legal standard to its own findings of fact.’ Those aren’t my words. That was the court’s conclusion. We are confident that when a district court review’s today’s split decision, it will reach a similar conclusion.

In today’s ruling, the Board’s Marc Bergsman agreed, concluding in his dissenting opinion:

It is astounding that the petitioners did not submit any evidence regarding the Native American population during the relevant time frame, nor did they introduce any evidence or argument as to what comprises a substantial composite of that population thereby leaving it to the majority to make petitioner’s case have some semblance of meaning.

The evidence in the current claim is virtually identical to the evidence a federal judge decided was insufficient more than ten years ago. We expect the same ultimate outcome here.”

67 Comment

  • Time to bootleg… “This is not a Washington Redskins shirt”

  • Yay! Now I can start selling my bootleg Washington Football Team gear!

  • YAYYYYY hope Dan Snyder literally just had an embolism.

  • Glad to see our government focusing on the most important issues at hand right now.

    • Should the USPTO be concerned with the situation in Iraq or something?

      I support my government helping to end racism, not sure about you. Especially when it’s as simple as lifting a pen.

      • So you want your government to be in the business of deciding what is offensive and what isn’t? I don’t want my government involved in the business of mind control.

        • You don’t seem to understand the issue. The US government (via the patent office) isn’t telling anyone what to think or even what they can put o a T-shirt. The football team applied for a patent and received it many years ago, thus giving them exclusive use of the logo. Now the patent office is saying, no, we’re taking the patent away because the law says you can’t get a patent on racist words/images. Get it? Now take off the tinfoil hat.

        • ah

          They’re obligated to determine whether the trademark could be registered pursuant to law when someone questions the registration, as occurred in this case.

          So, Congress put PTO in charge of making this determination when it passed a law that limited the registration of trademarks to non-offensive terms.

        • You are still free to be racist inside your own mind, dear friend. You just aren’t allowed to have the government legally protect your ownership of a logo you created that is racist because as a society that controls our government, we have decided that is wrong.

          You understand the entire idea of a patent is the government literally getting involved, right? Government protection of your idea so others cannot steal it. We should have the right to tell our government that it cannot protect racist ideas. If you’re mad at government involvement, be mad that patents even exist, not that the government decided not to protect one that is racist.

    • what? our govt? what? I’m confused.

    • You mean issuing a ruling in a court case? Exactly as they’re supposed to do when parties file suit?

    • I’m excited for when the USPTO says: “We’d like to rule on this matter, but America has more important things to deal with. So, no. Not doing it.” Then, I’m sure you’ll come back and complain about our government not doing its job. Can’t wait. Sign me up.

    • OBAMA! amirite?

    • I m sure that the government – particularly various agencies – can do more than one thing at a time.

    • Yeah right…we got terrorist everywhere and Washington is worried about a football bame?

  • Does anyone recommend any t-shirt companies who could print up some cool Washington Redtails t-shirts? There’s a couple of great logos that have already been developed and shared on the interwebs.

    • Correct! Basically this is going to hit them in the pocket.

      .Or as the cynical me would say, allow more people to make money off of an offensive name.

  • Trademarks (and patents) are exclusionary rights that allow the holder to prevent others from using the mark or invention – they do not grant an affirmative right of use to the trademark holder or inventor.

    So, the team will still be able to use the trademarks, but so will anyone else (i.e., unlicensed team memorabilia, etc)

    • Thus driving down the price of Redskins gear, thus costing the team and the league tons and tons of money, right? So it will soon be in their best interest to change the logo, to re-capture the corner on Washington football gear? Do I have that right?

      • yea in theory that is what would happen

        i mean its pretty widely known that one of the only ways we would get dan to budge on the issue is if we had a negative effect on the bottom line. this may help depending on future litigation on the matter nad how long that takes

      • nothing will drive up the black market price of nostalgic logo gear like killing the image/mascot/logo. just like little racist sambo and mamie dolls sky rocketted in price as Americana memorabilia (among blacks and whites) before and after the civil rights movements of the 60s. buy up now while it’s cheap, sell it on eBay for a 3-10x markup in a few years.

        • right, but expensive re-sales in several years don’t make dan snyder any money, which is the point.

      • Revenue from gear pales in comparison to revenue from TV rights and ticket sales. This is not a game-changer. If TV stations refused to broadcast the logo? Now that would bring some quick changes.

    • Meant to put this here.


      Correct! Basically this is going to hit them in the pocket.


      Or as the cynical me would say, allow more people to make money off of an offensive name.

  • Keep the name, change the mascot to a potato…

  • Interesting!

    But, this is far from done. This is an administrative decision issued by the USPTO. The redskins can, and probably will, move to the courts and challenge the decision, which could take years to reach a final judgment.

  • According to the WaPo, this has happened before. The previous time the ruling was overturned on appeal.

    • ah

      True, but this time they had a court’s guidance as to the proper legal standard.

    • And the trademark is still protected under state laws, so anybody trying to profit from this will still receive a cease and desist rather quickly.

      • Is it? That doesn’t make sense to me. Are there state-level PTOs? Did the WFT have to register its name in all 50 of the states?

  • nice!

    my uncle has been fighting this fight for years (i want to say over a decade at this point)

  • It’s been a very long time since I dusted off my Administrative Procedure Act hornbook. Do any of you specialists know if the appeal will be decided under the “arbitrary and capricious” standard? If so I think the team has a seriously uphill climb here.

  • You’d think someone named “Amanda Blackhorse” would have a little sympathy?

  • Not just bootlegs, anyone who is licensing the trademark can stop paying royalties if the decision is not stayed pending appeal (which is almost certainly will be).

    One thing to note, this does not overturn whatever copyright the Redskins have on their logo. This may be held by the artist or firm that made the mark, but likely it is held by the team and not subject to USPTO rules because copyrights do not have to be registered.

    So you can make shirts with Redskins on them with the colors etc. but hold off on using the logo.

  • the slow trickle begins as the govt opens the door tho release the deluge that will wipe the face of this bigoted NFL institution into oblivion, Snyder wont be making $2Billion from this deal.

    • It seem like he actually stands to make a bunch of money from it. If he changes the name, the fans are going to buy lots of new gear to replace their suddenly-outdated stuff, right?

  • With this and the Supreme Court possibly ruling on the Aereo case today or tomorrow, I’m hoping that this turns out to be a bad week for the NFL.

    • LOL, like the SCOTUS will rule against the big broadcasters. Aereo will lose and the cable monopolies will continue to be unimpeded by the shills in Congress and Obama’s lobbyist in the FCC.

  • I’m so glad that this happened and the team is losing the right to a racist word……let me go print 10000 shirts with this word on it!

  • There has got to be other ways to take advantage of this ruling than just by selling Redskins memorabilia. If the logo/name can now be used in print or advertising or naming for any other organization or purpose, there has got to be creative ways to take advantage of that to further harm or embarrass Synder until he finally relents and changes the name. Also, i wonder if Roger Goodell can step up and make some ruling that un order to protect the NFL brand, all teams must own trademarks to their team name. C’mon Goodell – be more like Adam Silver, and use this ruling to finally step up and state that racism will not be tolerated in the NFL. and force a namechange.

    • Nice thought but the trademarks will still stand while the appeals process moves forward which could take years.

  • So you guys are requesting the name be changeds—while some of you are suggesting to print 10000 tshirts with the same “racist” word on it? I don’t get it.

  • Washington Hogs! or Redtails, as linked above, is good too.

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