Redskins: Patent office ruling will have no effect on use of team name

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Redskins president Bruce Allen sounded unconcerned Wednesday morning when asked about the United States Patent and Trademark Office's decision to cancel the Redskins trademark registration because it considers the team's name “disparaging to Native Americans."

"We'll be fine," Allen said, according to the Washington Post.

A short time later, the team issued a press release titled, "Statement by Bob Raskopf, trademark attorney for the Washington Redskins."

“We’ve seen this story before, Raskopf said. "And just like last time, today’s ruling will have no effect at all on the team’s ownership of and right to use the Redskins name and logo."

Raskopf is referring to the Patent and Trademark Office issued the same ruling, and the Redskins won on appeal.

"We are confident we will prevail once again, and that the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s divided ruling will be overturned on appeal," Raskopf continued. "This case is no different than an earlier case, where the Board cancelled the Redskins’ trademark registrations, and where a federal district court disagreed and reversed the Board. As today’s dissenting opinion correctly states, 'the same evidence previously found insufficient to support cancellation' here 'remains insufficient' and does not support cancellation.

"This ruling -- which of course we will appeal -- simply addresses the team’s federal trademark registrations, and the team will continue to own and be able to protect its marks without the registrations. The registrations will remain effective while the case is on appeal."

This isn't the first time the Redskins have had their trademark registration canceled. (USATSI)
This isn't the first time the Redskins have had their trademark registration canceled. (USATSI)

So why did a judge 15 years ago rule on appeal in favor of the Redskins?

According to Raskopf: "As the district court’s ruling made clear in 2003, the evidence ‘is insufficient to conclude that during the relevant time periods the trademark at issue disparaged Native Americans...’

"The court continued, ‘The Court concludes that the [Board’s] finding that the marks at issue ‘may disparage’ Native Americans is unsupported by substantial evidence, is logically flawed, and fails to apply the correct legal standard to its own findings of fact.’ Those aren’t my words. That was the court’s conclusion. We are confident that when a district court review’s today’s split decision, it will reach a similar conclusion. ...

Raskopf adds: "The evidence in the current claim is virtually identical to the evidence a federal judge decided was insufficient more than ten years ago. We expect the same ultimate outcome here.”

So what happens if the ruling is, in fact, upheld?

As explained last month: "The effect would be large because federally registered trademarks keep others from selling items with the team's logos, although even then the team could try to keep unauthorized merchandisers from using the marks through common law and state statues."

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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