In a recent decision by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB), the administrative appellate body of the United State Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”), the USPTO cancelled the registrations of a handful of trademarks owned by the NFL’s Washington Redskins.
The ruling held the name “R\redskins” to be disparaging, with the TTAB stating:
“. . . petitioners have shown by a preponderance of the evidence that a substantial composite of Native Americans found the term REDSKINS to be disparaging in connection with respondent’s services during the relevant time frame of 1967-1990. Accordingly, the six registrations must be cancelled as required under Sections 2(a) and 14(3) of the Trademark Act.”
The USPTO’s ruling means that the Redskins, whose team name has been the subject of controversy over the years, will no longer enjoy some of the rights and privileges afforded to owners of USPTO-registered marks.
This decision does not require the football club to change its name, although the TTAB decision certainly looks like a “win” (at least for now) for the small but vocal current movement to try to persuade (or force) the club to change its name.
That said, the Washington Redskins retain their common law rights to their names and logos, which are well-recognized throughout the US (and many foreign countries) as marks owned by the club.
SOURCE: USPTO TTAB
USPTO TTAB Order – (as posted on web by Washington Post)