U.S. Patent office nixes Washington Redskins trademark protections

U.S. Patent office nixes Washington Redskins trademark protections
(Image credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The United States Patent and Trademark Office on Wednesday canceled six trademark registrations for the Washington Redskins football team, saying the team's moniker was "disparaging to Native Americans."

In a landmark ruling, the office's Trademark Trial and Appeal Board rejected the team's argument that the name did not offend many Native Americans and so was benign. Rather, the panel ruled that even a low estimate of 30 percent of Native Americans found the term disparaging, which constituted a "substantial composite." And since the Trademark Act prohibits the registration of disparaging trademarks, the "the mere existence of differing opinions cannot change the conclusion," the panel wrote.

That said, the ruling will have no immediate impact. The team may still be protected under state laws. And of course, given owner Dan Snyder's fervent refusal to change the name or admit it can be construed as offensive, the team will almost assuredly appeal.

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