The Washington Redskins were dealt with yet another defeat on Wednesday, when U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee ordered the cancellation of its federally registered trademarks. Lee upheld the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board's 2014, ruling that the trademarks were in violation of federal legislation, specifically that they "may disparage...persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt or disrepute." As such, the trademarks are ineligible for federal protection. The NFL team argued that no one opposed to the name when the trademarks were registered in 1967 and 1990. Instead of agreeing, Lee questioned why they chose the name in the first place, pointing to a dictionary entry from 1898 calling the word "often contemptuous".
A lengthy legal battle is still likely, with team president Bruce Allen confirming they will exhaust their appeal options and owner Dan Snyder vowing to never change the team's name.
Trademark protection may still be possible at the state level, and Lee was careful to state that the ruling doesn't mean the team is prohibited from using the name, or that fans were prohibited from purchasing team merchandise. The ruling does mean that the government won't grant the NFL team the exclusive right to profit off the offensive name. Still, the victory is worth celebrating. One of the attorneys for Amanda Blackhorse and the four other young Native American activists behind the case called it a "watershed moment" and Blackhorse stated that it's about "humanizing the indigenous identity".