US Patent Office cancels Redskins trademark

Ruling that the term is "disparaging to Native Americans", the U.S. Patent office has canceled six federal trademarks registered by the Washington Redskins.

A case filed by Native Americans argued that the trademark was built on an offensive racial slur, and many others—including U.S. Congress members—have called on the team to change its name.

"We decide, based on the evidence properly before us, that these registrations must be cancelled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered," the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board wrote in its ruling. The team retains trademark protections, however, until an appeals process concludes, writes The BBC

The six trademarks include logos based on, and typed and drawn forms of the words "Redskins" and "Redskinettes." The ruling, if it goes into effect, would not force the team to change its name. But it would strip it the legal protections afforded by trademarks, such as exclusive use of the term in its line of business.

The team's owner, Daniel Snyder, says the word "honors" Native Americans and that most Americans consider it acceptable. A statement issued by the team detailed its plans to appeal.

"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," said Bob Raskopf, the team's trademark lawyer. "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."