After a protracted legal dispute, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board today issued a ruling that six Washington Redskins trademark registrations must be canceled because they were disparaging and offensive to Native Americans.
The Board’s determination relates only to whether the mark may be federally registered. It lacks the authority to prevent the owner of the mark from making continued use of the name. Additionally, the owner still has rights based on its use even without a registration, known as common law rights, which are not impacted by today’s decision.
There is a possibility that today’s decision could be reversed after a judicial review of the case. The registrations were previously cancelled in 1999, but that decision was subsequantly overturned by a federal judge who found there was no evidence of disparagement when the marks were registered. If the decision is affirmed, the registrations will be cancelled.
Learn more on the Trademark Office’s website, found here: http://www.uspto.gov/news/USPTO_Official_Fact_Sheet_on_TTAB_decision_in_Blackhorse_v_Pro_Football_Inc.pdf