A Virginia judge ruled that the Washington Redskins’ trademark registrations regarding the team’s name and logo be cancelled. This war was waged for over twenty years, and Native American activists consider the ruling a victory.
Redskins President Bruce Allen arrogantly said that the franchise will appeal the ruling. “We are convinced that we will win on appeals as the facts and the law are on the side of our franchise that has proudly used the name Washington Redskins for more than 80 years,” said Allen.
The Washington Post noted, however, that even if the franchise took the case to the Supreme Court and lost, it can still seek trademark protection under state law. That could still potentially hurt the brand as trademark protections will be confined within a limited jurisdiction.
The judge’s ruling affirmed an earlier ruling made by the federal Trademark Trial and Appeal Board that the Redskins name was ineligible for federal trademark protection because of the offensive nature of the team’s name. The franchise argued that the name didn’t offend Native Americans. However, the judge pointed out that the term “redskin” was considered by Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary as an “often contemptuous” term as far back as 1898. The franchise didn’t register the name until 70 years after that time.
The Washington Redskins is an insensitive and offensive term. No matter how much the franchise tries to spin it or justify its use, the name will always be negative against the people it exploits.