photo redskins field

U.S. Trademark Office Cancels Redskins Trademark

In a landmark decksion, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has cancelled the Washington Redskins football team’s trademark, calling it “disparaging to Native Americans.”

You can read the full decision here.

News of the decision is also garnering reaction on Twitter.

Official United States Patent and Trademark Office Statement on the
Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s (TTAB) Decision in Blackhorse v. Pro
Football, Inc.

“The United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Trademark Trial and Appeal Board –
– an independent administrative tribunal within the USPTO — has determined, based on the
evidentiary record in the proceeding before it and on applicable law, that the petitioners met their
burden to establish that the term “Redskins” was disparaging of Native Americans, when used in
relation to professional football services, at the times the various registrations involved in the
cancellation proceeding were issued. Thus, the federal registrations for the “Redskins”
trademarks involved in this proceeding must be canceled.

“The decision to cancel the registrations means that, if not appealed or not affirmed following a
possible review by a federal court, the trademark owner (Pro Football, Inc.) will lose the legal
benefits conferred by federal registration. These benefits include the legal presumptions of
ownership and of nationwide scope of rights in these trademarks, as well as the ability to use the
federal registration ® symbol, and to record the registrations with the U.S. Customs and Border
Patrol Service to block importation of infringing or counterfeit foreign goods.

“The decision does not, however, require the trademarks in the involved registrations to be
changed or no longer be used by Washington, D.C.’s pro football team. The Trademark Trial
and Appeal Board does not have jurisdiction in a cancellation proceeding to require that a party
cease use of a mark, but only to determine whether a mark may continue to be registered.

“This decision can be reviewed by a federal court. The registrations will not appear in the
USPTO’s records as cancelled until after any judicial review is completed.”

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