A decision by the U.S. Patent Office to cancel the trademark registration for the Washington Redskins’ team nickname is a “victory for decency,” said U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus.
The team doesn't immediately lose trademark protection and is allowed to retain it during an appeal, which is likely.
Redskins owner Dan Snyder has refused to change the team's name, citing tradition, but there has been growing pressure including statements in recent months from members of Congress, President Obama and civil rights groups.
Native American groups and lawmakers -- who have pressured National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell to force Snyder to abandon the name – celebrated the decision.
In May, half of the U.S. Senate – including Minnesota Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken -- wrote letters to the NFL urging the team to change its name.
“I commend the Native American petitioners and tribal leaders from across Indian Country for their courage to confront this ugly issue head on and strive for both justice and the respect they deserve,” said McCollum, a Minnesota Democrat.
“It is time for NFL team owners to have the courage to speak out and pressure Dan Snyder to change his team’s racist name. Any effort by Mr. Snyder to appeal this ruling can only be viewed as a bigoted attempt to continue to profit from this racist team name at the expense of the dignity of Native Americans.”
The decision from the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, which found that the team name is “disparaging of Native Americans,” means that the team can continue to use the Redskins name, but would lose much of its ability to protect the financial interests connected to its use.
The case does not apply to the team's logo.