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The Washington NFL team can still call itself "Redskins." That didn't change with Wednesday's ruling by a federal trademark board. But opponents of the name, who call it a racial slur, hope team owner Daniel Snyder will change it on his own.

"Be a hero to Native American children who suffer from self-esteem issues," Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., said. "Raise the level of integrity in the NFL. Be a hero. Say that times have changed, and you're changing along with them."

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled six federal trademark registrations owned by the team. The 2-1 decision said the term was disparaging to "a substantial composite" of American Indians when the marks were granted between 1967 and 1990. Team attorney Robert Raskopf said the team would appeal.

The team retains its federal trademark rights during appeal. Even if appeals courts affirm the board's decision, the team can continue to assert rights under common law and state statutes, though it would lose its nationwide scope of rights.

The board canceled the team's federal trademark registrations in an earlier version of the case in 1999. The team won on appeal in 2003. The difference this time is that the ruling comes as the latest in a barrage of public pressure against the name.

"When this first happened, I doubt it made barely a blip on the national news landscape," said Brad Newberg, an attorney in Northern Virginia with trademark experience, "whereas now this is sort of the next big wave in a tide of opinions."

The team offered no hint that Snyder might consider change. Instead, Raskopf asserted the team's legal rights.

"Just like last time," he said in a statement, "today's ruling will have no effect at all on the team's ownership of and right to use the Redskins name and logo."


June 19, 2014


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