Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Protesters denounced what they called the "racist and offensive" team name outside of a Washington Redskins game in Denver. (Photo: Confrontation Media/ cc/ Flickr)

Protesters denounced what they called the "racist and offensive" team name outside of a Washington Redskins game in Denver. (Photo: Confrontation Media/ cc/ Flickr)

Victory for Native Americans as Redskins Trademarks Pulled

Federal board rules that team name is 'disparaging' to Native Americans

Lauren McCauley

In a landmark rebuke of the controversial NFL brand, the federal patent office on Wednesday canceled the Washington Redskins' official trademark registration.

“It is a great victory for Native Americans and for all Americans," said plaintiff Amanda Blackhorse in a statement quoted by Think Progress. "I hope this ruling brings us a step closer to that inevitable day when the name of the Washington football team will be changed. The team’s name is racist and derogatory. I’ve said it before and I will say it again – if people wouldn’t dare call a Native American a ‘redskin’ because they know it is offensive, how can an NFL football team have this name?”

Blackhorse was one of five Native Americans represented in the suit Blackhorse v. Pro -Football, Inc. who sought the cancellation of six different trademarks associated with the Washington D.C. team, each containing the word "redskin," on the grounds that the term denigrates Native Americans.

In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled that the term violates federal trademark law, which does not permit the registration of trademarks that “may disparage” individuals or groups or “bring them into contempt or disrepute.”

During the trial, prosecuting attorneys with the firm Drinker, Biddle & Reath LLP showed a series of images and otherevidence to convince the court that the term "redskins" both refers to and is "disparaging" toward Native Americans.

Responding to the ruling, the team released an official statement by their trademark attorney saying the board's decision "will have no effect at all on the team’s ownership of and right to use the Redskins name and logo," and vowed to appeal.

Despite the mounting outcry over the racist overtones of the term, Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has vowed that he will "never" change the team's name.

Though the ruling itself will not force such a change, as USA Today sports journalist Erik Brady explained, it may threaten the teams ability to protect their brand or prevent others from selling items with the team's logo.

More significantly, Brady notes, the cancellation of the trademarks "would serve as the latest clarion call in a rising tide of pressure on the team and the league."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

South Dakota Voters Sue Over Right-Wing Attack on Ballot Measures

The GOP effort in the state, said one opponent, "is the latest example of the orchestrated and ongoing attack from bad actors across the country on our democratic institutions."

Kenny Stancil ·

Eric Trump Invoked 5th Amendment 500 Times During 6-Hour Deposition

Longtime Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg refused a similar number of questions, citing his right to not self-incriminate.

Jake Johnson ·

Vaccine Apartheid Means Pandemic 'Nowhere Near Over': WHO Chief

"With the incredible growth of Omicron globally, new variants are likely to emerge," warned WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Jake Johnson ·

Senate Dems Propose Talking Filibuster for Voting Rights

"If Senate Democrats can find the political courage this moment requires, they have the tools right now to pass voting rights legislation and save our democracy."

Jessica Corbett ·

94% of AZ Progressives Support Primary Challenge if Sinema Kills Voting Rights

"Sinema can betray Arizonans, but there aren't enough pharma lobbyists in the world to keep her in office if she does."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo