Patent Office Rules Against 'Redskins' Trademark

By Eric Scheiner | June 18, 2014 | 2:11 PM EDT

A Washington Redskins football helmet lies on the field during NFL football minicamp, Wednesday, June 18, 2014, in Ashburn, Va. The U.S. Patent Office ruled Wednesday, June 18, 2014, that the Washington Redskins nickname is "disparaging of Native Americans" and that the team's federal trademarks for the name must be canceled. The ruling comes after a campaign to change the name has gained momentum over the past year. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

The U.S. Patent Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled Wednesday that the Washington Redskins name is "disparaging to Native Americans" and that the team's six federal registrations for the name must be canceled.

The ruling comes after efforts to force owner Daniel Snyder to change the name of the team have gained momentum.

"As explained below, we decide, based on the evidence properly before us, that these registrations must be cancelled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered," the Patent and Trademark ruling says.

The team doesn't immediately lose its trademark protection and will be allowed to retain it during an appeal.

The decision means that while the team can continue to use the Redskins name, it would lose a portion of its ability to protect its financial interests. It becomes more difficult to go after people who use the name on items without permission.

“We’ve seen this story before. 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,"said Bob Raskopf, trademark attorney for the Washington Redskins, in a press statement.

Raskopf referenced an earlier case in 1999 when the Redskins were denied trademarks. A case they eventually won on appeal.

The Redskins trademark case that was ruled on today was originally launched in 2006 by a group of five Native Americans.


Associated Press reports were used in the creation of this article.

Eric Scheiner
Eric Scheiner
Eric is the Senior Video Producer for