Court Upholds Trademark Cancellation

Published on Jul 08, 2015

Washington, DC- Today, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia upheld the ruling of cancellation of the Washington, DC football team’s trademark name and logo.

Attorneys Jesse Witten and Jeffrey Lopez of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP have represented Amanda Blackhorse (Navajo) and a group of Native American activists in this case against the trademark. Last year, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) Appeal Board voted 2-1 that the team’s name was ineligible for federal trademark protection. The District Court affirmed that ruling and directed the PTO to schedule the cancellation of the team’s trademarks because they “may disparage” Native Americans. 

NCAI President Brian Cladoosby stated, “It’s time to end the harmful legacy of perpetuating racist stereotypes that in no way honor our diverse cultural heritage. The federal courts have recognized that the use of the R-word is offensive and degrading to our identity as Native people.”

NCAI and Indian Country have been advocating for over 60 years for the football team to change the name. In the ruling, the Court thoroughly discussed NCAI’s longtime advocacy against the Washington team name. NCAI has worked diligently with the group Change The Mascot on this issue and applauds the ruling that clearly upholds the spirit of Pro Football v. Harjo, the 1992 case challenging the use of the team trademark.

See Change The Mascot’s release here.
See the final Ruling here.

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