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US Patent Office Cancels Washington Redskins’ Trademark

Washington Redskins helmet
Al Messerschmidt, Getty Images

The Washington Redskins no more?

It is unclear the full impact of a decision from the US Patent and Trademark Office, as reported by, that says the Washington Reskins’ tradmarks – a total of six – have been cancelled.

The site includes a pair of quotes that credited to the patent and trademark office’s official ruling, including:

“The record establishes that, at a minimum, approximately thirty percent of Native Americans found the term ‘redskins’ used in connection with respondent’s services to be disparaging at all times including 1967, 1972, 1974, 1978, and 1990,” the USPTO writes. “Thirty percent is without doubt a substantial composite. To determine otherwise means it is acceptable to subject to disparagement 1 out of every 3 individuals.”

However, the USAToday reports this won’t mean the team, which has used the Redskins moniker for more than 80 years, will be forced to change their name:

The Washington team can appeal and retain its federal trademark rights in the meantime. And even if the club loses on appeal, it can continue to use the name, as it has for more than 80 years. But without trademark protection, others could potentially use the team’s name and logos to sell merchandise with impunity, although owners of unregistered marks can still try to protect them through state statutes or common law.

There has been an ongoing dispute between some Native American advocacy officials – including Ray Halbritter, CEO of Oneida Nation Enterprises – and Daniel Snyder, owner of the NFL’s Washington football franchise. Some believe the term Redskins is offensive, while supporters of the handle argue that the team’s brand name and mascot were created to pay tribute to the nation’s indigenous people.

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