Loss of Trademark Would Be Final Straw for Washington Redskins’ Name


By Brad Gagnon , NFC East Lead Writer

Mar 21, 2014 Bleacher Report

Those who defend the Washington Redskins‘ right to be called the Washington Redskins despite the fact the name is considered by many—including, um, dictionaries—to be disparaging, offensive and flat-out racist, do so because, as my 10-year-old nephew likes to say, it’s a free country, and Dan Snyder owns the team.

They’re right. Snyder paid $800 million for the franchise and its stadium in 1999 and thus has the right to keep the name in place, as he has said he’ll do, according to ESPN.com.

The problem is that it seems many supporters of the name falsely believe that Snyder is standing firm based solely on some sort of emotional allegiance to it, when really this is about dollars and cents.

If the name starts costing Snyder money, I can assure you that sentimentality will go out the window.

And if the the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office revokes the league’s federal trademark protection on the name “Redskins,” Snyder, his team and the entire league will lose money.

The good news for those who are pro-Redskins is that while that office has indeed been reviewing a case regarding the NFL‘s use of the Washington Redskins’ trademark, it has been doing so for about eight years.

And while a bill was recently introduced in the United States House of Representatives to amend the Trademark Act of 1946 to void any trademark registrations that disparage Native Americans, that has also stalled.

But the bad news for those who are pro-racist nickname is that every new Redskins-related product application made to the Patent and Trademark Office of late has been swatted away in Dikembe Mutombo fashion.

From The Associated Press (via ESPN.com):

“The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has rejected another product with “Redskin” in the name, the latest sign that it might rule against the Washington Redskins in an ongoing trademark case.

The agency said Monday that “Washington Redskin Potatoes” would be considered disparaging because the product doesn’t contain redskin potatoes and therefore would be associated with the football team.

The ruling then stated that current evidence reflects that “a substantial composite of Native American Indians find the current use of ‘Redskins’ in conjunction with football disparaging.”

The agency issued a similar ruling in January, rejecting “Redskins Hog Rinds.””

As Patrick Hruby from Sports On Earth establishes, the cost of changing the name is tantamount to peanuts. We’re talking about one, maybe two Adam Archuletas (sorry for adding salt to the wound, ‘Skins fans).

ESPN and ABC News sports business correspondent Darren Rovell told Keith Olbermann last year that changing names would be a wash in terms of profits/losses, while Olbermann himself believes Snyder would actually make money doing so.

Regardless, if trademark protection is lost and everyone else on the planet gains the right to manufacture and sell products that contain the team’s name and logo without owing the league a dime, Snyder’s hand will be forced.

And that’ll be a good thing, because based on polls as well as the multitude of lawsuits launched in this regard from dozens of Native organizations, it’s safe to conclude that thousands of Americans are personally offended by the name.

Changing it won’t hurt a soul. So even if that change takes place due to reasons that have nothing to do with compassion, a change is a change.