The PJ Tatler

After Redskins Court Loss, D.C. Delegate Tells Team to Throw in the Towel

D.C.’s delegate to Congress urged the Washington Redskins to throw in the towel after a key loss in court over the team name.

Last year, the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board decided 2-1 not to renew the team’s trademark registration, ruling that Redskins is offensive to American Indians. The case went to court, and today U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee upheld the Patent Office decision.

Lee noted that Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, in 1898, defined Redskins as an “often contemptuous” word, 70 years before the first team trademark was granted. The ruling doesn’t ban the team from using the name or logo, but trademarking it.

Redskins President Bruce Allen said the team is taking the case up to the 4th District Court of Appeals.

“We are convinced that we will win on appeal as the facts and the law are on the side of our franchise that has proudly used the name Washington Redskins for more than 80 years,” he said in a statement.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said that after the Patent Office and federal court rulings, “I hope that [owner] Dan Snyder gets on with his real business of getting the team back in winning form and selecting a new mascot.”

“The national public outcry has been overwhelming and it is clear residents do not want their beloved Washington football team name to be aligned with the disparagement of Native Americans or any other ethnic group,” Norton said. “As a former First Amendment lawyer, I have looked closely at Snyder’s free speech defense and could find no precedents in federal law that would predict further litigation would be successful. In light of today’s ruling, further dependence on the courts could destroy what good will remains for the team and further harm Snyder’s own reputation.”

“Surely, these two rulings should summon NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the 29 other NFL team owners, who benefit from our team, to exercise their leadership and hasten what appears to be the inevitable outcome of changing our team’s name.”