US Patent Office rules against Redskins trademark

The team has said it will appeal the ruling, which, if upheld, could hurt its ability to fight bootleg gear and products.

The US Patent and Trademark Office may have inched the Washington Redskins a little closer to changing their name on Wednesday when it issued a ruling to cancel the team’s trademark registrations, saying the name is disparaging to Native Americans.

The football team said it will appeal the ruling, noting that similar judgments have been overturned in the past. "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," Bob Raskopf, trademark attorney for the team, said in a statement.

However, experts said in media reports that the ruling, if upheld throughout the appeals process, would mean the team would not be able to stop other people or organizations from selling products with the Redskins name or logo by claiming trademark status.

The Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation ran an ad claiming the Redskins nickname is offensive during game three of the NBA Finals earlier this month, countering claims by the team that it honors Native Americans.

A group of 50 Democratic US Senators sent a letter to Redskins owner Daniel Snyder last month encouraging him to change the name, and just this week former football star Terry Bradshaw said he also thinks the Redskins are due for a rebranding.

However, in his most adamant statement on the matter to date, Snyder told USA Today last year that he will "never" change the team’s name, adding for emphasis, "never – you can use caps."

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