Associated Press
The USTO has called the Redskins trademarks 'disparaging to Native Americans' in a decision delivered today.

Big Win for Indian Country: Patent Office Cancels Redskins Trademark


The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has canceled six Federal trademark registrations for the Washington Redskins. The PTO's Trademark Trial and Appeals Board issued its decision Wednesday morning.

“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 Board said, in an opinion that is available online at

RELATED: Pelosi Says Trademark Office Should Not Protect "Redskins"

The document then provides some more specific, and key, details. First, the limitation of the ruling: "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."

In other words, the Redskins can (and likely will) continue to operate as the Redskins, and can use the iconography in question -- without trademark protection.

The court document specifies six formerly-registered images, but only includes three of them; ICTMN has located another two:

1. Registration No. 0836122 for the mark THE REDSKINS (stylized)

2. Registration No. 0978824 for the mark WASHINGTON REDSKINS, in typed drawing form (found here)

3. Registration No. 0986668 for the mark WASHINGTON REDSKINS and design:

4. Registration No. 0987127 for the mark THE REDSKINS and design:

5. Registration No. 1085092 for the mark REDSKINS, in typed drawing form (found here):


6. Registration No. 1606810 for the mark REDSKINETTES, in typed drawing form, for “entertainment services, namely, cheerleaders who perform dance routines at professional football games and exhibitions and other personal appearances. (Registration document here; no image included.)

While the images provided for points images 1, 3, and 4 are slightly dated, points 2 and 5 indisputably display the team's present-day logo and typeface. (Point 6 isn't strictly relevant as the team no longer calls its cheerleaders "Redskinettes.")

Jesse Witten, the plaintiffs’ lead attorney, said in a press release (published in part by ThinkProgress) that the board "agreed with our clients that the team’s name and trademarks disparage Native Americans. The Board ruled that the Trademark Office should never have registered these trademarks in the first place. ... We presented a wide variety of evidence – including dictionary definitions and other reference works, newspaper clippings, movie clips, scholarly articles, expert linguist testimony, and evidence of the historic opposition by Native American groups – to demonstrate that the word ‘redskin’ is an ethnic slur."

In her own statement, plaintiff Amanda Blackhorse hailed the ruing as "a great victory for Native Americans and for all Americans." "We filed our petition eight years ago and it has been a tough battle ever since," she continued. "I hope this ruling brings us a step closer to that inevitable day when the name of the Washington football team will be changed. The team’s name is racist and derogatory. I’ve said it before and I will say it again – if people wouldn’t dare call a Native American a ‘redskin’ because they know it is offensive, how can an NFL football team have this name?"

In 1999, the board delivered a similar verdict, but an appeal by the Washington team was granted by a Federal court and  the U.S. Supreme Court declined to overturn that decision, on grounds that the plaintiffs had waited too long to file their suit. According to ThinkProgress, the plaintiffs say that frustrating scenario will not play out again. 

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Submitted by oneeyedmastodon on
Has anyone else thought about the fact that before the Communist Party took over the White House we, had in those days, rarely heard all of this talk of racial disparagement. It is however of course a major part of the Communist ideology to separate and divide the people. If the people are all fighting amongst themselves they won’t be paying attention to their loss of freedom as they are enslaved. So the ignorant fall prey to their game!!!

bullbear's picture
Submitted by bullbear on
It is a good day !! The tide is beginning to turn, but our fight is not finished, brothers and sisters. This is one victory, a significant one, indeed. The constant pressure and continual growth of support for ridding the racist name is made possible because there were those who never gave up the fight. The sadness is that there are some of our own native brothers and sisters who openly stated that they saw no problem in the name. What they failed to see is that, if we allow one name to be openly accepted, we are telling the world that we could care less or it is okay to run all over us as a People. As for me, I will continue to fight for those who gave up their life defending our rights, for my children and grandchildren, and their children. It is a very good day!

Olson Ward
Submitted by Olson Ward on
Don't get too excited. The Redskin trademarks have not been cancelled. Only their federal registrations. They still have many years and millions of dollars of goodwill tied up in their marks. I doubt if they will just abandon them. They are still enforceable in Federal Court under the Langam Act, Section 43.

dstorm's picture
Submitted by dstorm on
It's a damn shame that our Native People get offended by the Redskins name. But they proudly display $20 bills from their bill folds. Whatever the case the Patent Office has done this before before being overruled so this does not really matter. All hail to the Redskins. I will love them no matter what happens. And those who are behind the name change need to identify themselves as a private group because they do not speak for all of us. That's for damn sure. This media hungry group has made me sick to my bones.

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
Keep talking sports fans, change is on the way. Like it or not you're not going to use this slur on Sunday afternoon sports any longer.