The efforts of a young group of Native Americans, as well as their myriad supporters, protesting the name "Washington Redskins" have begun to pay off.
Earlier today (June 18), the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office made a landmark decision
, ruling that the "Washington Redskins" name be cancelled because it is "disparaging of Native Americans." The ruling, handed down by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, came at a 2-1 vote.
The football team is not required to change its name, however this is just more pressure added to the team's owner, Dan Snyder, who has been criticized constantly in recent months for the name. Critics include the United Church Of Christ, members of the U.S. Senate
, and other political figures.
This issue was first brought to court in 1999, but was overturned four years later, partly because the team had first trademarked its name more than 30 years before. The aforementioned group of young Native Americans restarted the protest in 2006, and a hearing was finally held last year.
If this ruling holds, the Redskins will lose much of its financial rights to the name, although they will be allowed to keep the name itself. However, with the original owners' rights diminished, anyone can print the name on merchandise with little chance of repercussion.
The Redskins will appeal, they announced. The trademark cancellation will remain on hold as the court process continues, which could stretch on for years.
"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. We are confident we will prevail once again," Redskins attorney Bob Raskopf said in a statement.
Snyder wouldn't comment on these latest developments, and none of the team's players have spoken out about the issue. Considering their careers may be at risk if they do, that isn't much of a surprise. Although, their quarterback, Robert Griffin III, did say today that he and his teammates are focusing on playing football and letting the legal team "take care of that stuff."
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