U.S. Patent Office: Redskins name 'disparaging,' federal trademark must be canceled

By Joseph White

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, June 18 2014 11:02 p.m. MDT

Also, the board said a "substantial" number of Native Americans — at least about 30 percent — have found the team's use of the term to be offensive.

Earlier this year, the agency rejected trademark requests for "Redskins Hog Rinds" and "Washington Redskin Potatoes." It also turned down an Asian-American rock band called The Slants and the Jewish humor magazine Heeb.

Courts overturned the board's 1999 ruling in part because the plaintiffs waited too long to voice their objections after the original trademarks were issued. The case was relaunched in 2006 by a younger group of Native Americans who only recently became adults and would not have been able to file a case earlier.

The chorus of critics against the use of the name has grown over the past year.

President Barack Obama himself said last year that he would think about changing the name if he owned the team.

On Saturday, a major sector of the United Church of Christ voted to urge its 40,000 members to boycott the Redskins. On Capitol Hill, half the Senate recently wrote letters to the NFL urging a change because "racism and bigotry have no place in professional sports."

Washington Mayor Vincent Gray suggested Wednesday that the name will almost certainly have to change if the team ever wants to build a new stadium in the city.

Snyder, who has vowed repeatedly never to abandon the name, declined to comment as he walked off the field after a practice Wednesday.

Redskins players have mostly avoided the topic.

"Our job as players is to focus on what we can on this field day-in and day-out and let the legal people take care of that stuff," quarterback Robert Griffin III said. "And when it's the right time, then we can voice whatever it is we know about the situation."

The Redskins have responded to critics by creating a foundation to give financial support to Indian tribes. Suzan Shown Harjo, a leading figure in the trademark case, called the foundation "somewhere between a PR assault and bribery."

Supporters of a name change hailed the decision.

"Daniel Snyder may be the last person in the world to realize this," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the Senate floor, "but it is just a matter of time until he is forced to do the right thing."

AP National Writer Eddie Pells in Denver and Associated Press writer Sam Hananel contributed to this report.

AP NFL websites: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

Follow Joseph White on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

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