In what's being called a "landmark decision," the United States Patent and Trademark Office has canceled six federal trademark registrations for the name of the Washington Redskins, ruling that the name is "disparaging to Native Americans." Due to its "disparaging" nature, the name cannot be trademarked under federal law which prohibits protection of offensive or disparaging language.

Think Progress originally reported Wednesday morning's decision in the case brought against the team by plaintiff Amanda Blackhorse.

“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 wrote in its opinion.

Related: Video: Anti-'Redskins' Ad Airs During NBA Finals

So what does this mean for the team? Think Progress reports that Washington will almost certainly appeal the case and will be able to keep its trademark during the appeal. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has been steadfast in his defense of his team's nickname.

Quoting The Washington Post: "[NFL Commissioner Roger] Goodell and [Redskins] team officials have consistently said they don’t believe the name is disparaging and have pointed to a decade-old poll and recent letters to show that many Native Americans support the moniker. Snyder has described the name as a 'badge of honor' and has vowed never to change it."

Related: American Indians Disagree on Embattled 'Redskins' Name

Losing the trademark would not force the team to change its name, but it would allow anyone to use the "Redskins" name on merchandise or other memorabilia, without needing permission.

As Think Progress reports, because of the NFL’s revenue-sharing model, losing the trademark would not only cost Washington money, but other NFL teams too. The team’s attorneys argued that losing trademark protections and the exclusive right to their brand would cause “every imaginable loss you can think of.” For that reason, targeting the trademark has long been thought of by opponents of the team’s name as the easiest avenue to changing it.

According to Sports on Earth
, Snyder would stand to lose between $10 and $20 million if he is forced to change the name. That report factors in the cost of naming consultants, lawyers, stadium signs, uniforms and many other commercial pieces used by an NFL team.

Today's decision is a major blow to Snyder, but until the appeal is heard, there will be no immediate results from the ruling.


Michael Gaio is eMedia Editor of Athletic Business.
The Washington team have a meaningful and natural answer for their mascot - "Americans". It might expand their influence/market and possibly remind the politicians that follow the team who they represent.
Assuming this ruling stands over time Syder would loose money on sales of knockoff merchandise. These millions to rebrand would probably be gained back in a few years in all new patented merchandise. It appears to be more of an ego issue for Snyder than a business decision.
Good point, David. I didn't include this in the article, but found it interesting: From April 1, 2012 to March 2013, more jerseys of Redskins QB Robert Griffin III were sold than any player in a single year in NFL history.

Imagine if anyone could knock off those jerseys, sell them and not be in violation of any law for doing so. Snyder would definitely feel an impact on the bottom line.
This will not hold up at all.. This decision opens up a whole gammit of anit-trust claims by the Redskins. government interference in a business concern, discriminatory acts by a government agency-free speach, forcing a business to lose revenue due to someones opinion and not law... this will be a lawyers dream.
The native, indigenous, Indians, tribe, what ever they call themselves are riding a short lived parallel universe drug induced high!

Remember when the "Negro League" called themselves the "Negro League" . there were the Washington Black Senators. hmm no outcry... Birmingham Black Barons, even the Atlanta black Crackers!! Yet We see no native (redskin) sport culture, yet most still get a government check all the whining of little snitty kids!