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U.S. Patent Office finds Washington Redskins’ name offensive

  • A Washington Redskins football helmet lies on the field during NFL football minicamp, Wednesday, June 18, 2014, in Ashburn, Va. The U.S. Patent Office ruled Wednesday, June 18, 2014, that the Washington Redskins nickname is "disparaging of Native Americans" and that the team's federal trademarks for the name must be canceled. The ruling comes after a campaign to change the name has gained momentum over the past year.  (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

    A Washington Redskins football helmet lies on the field during NFL football minicamp, Wednesday, June 18, 2014, in Ashburn, Va. The U.S. Patent Office ruled Wednesday, June 18, 2014, that the Washington Redskins nickname is "disparaging of Native Americans" and that the team's federal trademarks for the name must be canceled. The ruling comes after a campaign to change the name has gained momentum over the past year. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

  • Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden, left, talks with wide receiver DeSean Jackson, right, during NFL football minicamp, Wednesday, June 18, 2014, in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

    Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden, left, talks with wide receiver DeSean Jackson, right, during NFL football minicamp, Wednesday, June 18, 2014, in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

  • FILE - In this Sept. 24, 2012, file photo, the Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals face off during the first half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md. The U.S. Patent Office ruled Wednesday, June 18, 2014, that the Washington Redskins nickname is "disparaging of Native Americans" and that the team's federal trademarks for the name must be canceled. The ruling comes after a campaign to change the name has gained momentum over the past year. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

    FILE - In this Sept. 24, 2012, file photo, the Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals face off during the first half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md. The U.S. Patent Office ruled Wednesday, June 18, 2014, that the Washington Redskins nickname is "disparaging of Native Americans" and that the team's federal trademarks for the name must be canceled. The ruling comes after a campaign to change the name has gained momentum over the past year. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

  • FILE - In this June 17, 2014, file photo, Washington Redskins helmets sit on the field during an NFL football minicamp in Ashburn, Va. The U.S. Patent Office ruled Wednesday, June 18, 2014, that the Washington Redskins nickname is "disparaging of Native Americans" and that the team's federal trademarks for the name must be canceled. The ruling comes after a campaign to change the name has gained momentum over the past year. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

    FILE - In this June 17, 2014, file photo, Washington Redskins helmets sit on the field during an NFL football minicamp in Ashburn, Va. The U.S. Patent Office ruled Wednesday, June 18, 2014, that the Washington Redskins nickname is "disparaging of Native Americans" and that the team's federal trademarks for the name must be canceled. The ruling comes after a campaign to change the name has gained momentum over the past year. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

  • Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III speaks with the media after NFL football minicamp, Wednesday, June 18, 2014, in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

    Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III speaks with the media after NFL football minicamp, Wednesday, June 18, 2014, in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

  • A Washington Redskins football helmet lies on the field during NFL football minicamp, Wednesday, June 18, 2014, in Ashburn, Va. The U.S. Patent Office ruled Wednesday, June 18, 2014, that the Washington Redskins nickname is "disparaging of Native Americans" and that the team's federal trademarks for the name must be canceled. The ruling comes after a campaign to change the name has gained momentum over the past year.  (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
  • Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden, left, talks with wide receiver DeSean Jackson, right, during NFL football minicamp, Wednesday, June 18, 2014, in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
  • FILE - In this Sept. 24, 2012, file photo, the Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals face off during the first half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md. The U.S. Patent Office ruled Wednesday, June 18, 2014, that the Washington Redskins nickname is "disparaging of Native Americans" and that the team's federal trademarks for the name must be canceled. The ruling comes after a campaign to change the name has gained momentum over the past year. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
  • FILE - In this June 17, 2014, file photo, Washington Redskins helmets sit on the field during an NFL football minicamp in Ashburn, Va. The U.S. Patent Office ruled Wednesday, June 18, 2014, that the Washington Redskins nickname is "disparaging of Native Americans" and that the team's federal trademarks for the name must be canceled. The ruling comes after a campaign to change the name has gained momentum over the past year. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)
  • Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III speaks with the media after NFL football minicamp, Wednesday, June 18, 2014, in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled yesterday that the Washington Redskins’ name is “disparaging of Native Americans” and should be stripped of trademark protection – a decision that puts powerful new financial and political pressure on the NFL team to rename itself.

By a vote of 2-1, the agency’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board sided with five Native Americans in a dispute that has been working its way through legal channels for more than two decades.

The ruling doesn’t directly force the team to abandon the name, but it adds momentum to the campaign at a time of increasing criticism of Redskins owner Dan Snyder from political, religious and sports figures who say it’s time for a change.

“If the most basic sense of morality, decency and civility has not yet convinced the Washington team and the NFL to stop using this hateful slur, then hopefully today’s patent ruling will, if only because it imperils the ability of the team’s billionaire owner to keep profiting off the denigration and dehumanization of Native Americans,” Oneida Indian representative Ray Halbritter and National Congress of American Indians Executive Director Jackie Pata, two of the leading forces in the campaign to change the name, said in a statement.

The Redskins quickly announced they will appeal, and the team’s name will continue to have trademark protection while the matter makes its way through the courts – a process that could take years.

A similar ruling by the board in 1999 was overturned on a technicality in 2003.

“We’ve seen this story before,” Redskins attorney Bob Raskopf said. “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. We are confident we will prevail once again.”

Snyder and others associated with the team have long argued that the Redskins name is used with respect and honor and is a source of pride among many American Indians.

The ruling involves six uses of the “Redskins” name trademarked by the team from 1967 to 1990, but does not apply to the team’s American Indian head logo.

If it stands, the team will still be free to use the name but will lose a lot of its ability to protect its financial interests. It will be more difficult for the team to go after others who print the Redskins name on sweatshirts or other gear without permission.

“Joe in Peoria is going to have a pretty good argument that he could put the ‘Redskins’ name on some T-shirt,” said Brad Newberg, a copyright law expert in Virginia.

Newberg estimated that the ruling, if upheld, could cost the team tens of millions of dollars per year. Forbes magazine puts the value of the Redskins franchise at $1.7 billion and said $145 million of that is attributable to the team’s brand.

Legacy Comments1

It is no longer astonishing when this paper avoids a true SCANDAL like the IRS e-mail scandal and reports on the Federal Govt using hanky panky in the taking of one's private property. This liberal Rag will go to any lengths to protect the President and his party. That is not what the founding fathers intended when they gave the media special protections in the constitution. If there are journalism diplomas on the wall of the CM they must have tear stains on them from crying over the loss of principals at the CM. Shame on the CM Rag

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