U.S. Patent Office Rules Washington Redskins Name 'Disparaging of Native Americans'

06/18/2014 at 11:50 AM EDT

U.S. Patent Office Rules Washington Redskins Name 'Disparaging of Native Americans'
Washington Redskins helmets
Nick Wass/AP
In a landmark case, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the Washington Redskins trademark association Wednesday, calling the team's nickname "disparaging of Native Americans."

According to the Washington Post, federal trademark law does not permit registration of trademarks that "may disparage" individuals or groups, or "bring them into contempt or disrepute."

The ruling focuses on six different trademarks associated with the team, each containing "Redskins," and though the ruling does not mean the team has to change its name, it affects whether the team and the NFL can make money from merchandising because it limits the team's legal options when others use the logos and name.

The case was filed on behalf of five Native Americans and marks the second time such a case has been filed.



Wednesday's decision is similar to one issued in 1999, according to the Washington Post, but the team and the NFL won a 2003 appeal after the ruling was overturned largely on a technicality because the courts decided that the plaintiffs were too old.

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