In Landmark Decision, U.S. Patent Office Cancels Trademark For Redskins Football Team

Posted By Toyacoyah Brown June 18th, 2014 Last Updated on: June 18th, 2014

Big news today! Via Thinkprogress.Org, we got word that The United States Patent and Trademark Office has canceled six federal trademark registrations for the name of the Washington Redskins, ruling that the name is “disparaging to Native Americans” and thus cannot be trademarked under federal law that prohibits the protection of offensive or disparaging language.

The U.S. PTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board issued a ruling in the case, brought against the team by plaintiff Amanda Blackhorse, Wednesday morning.

“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 board wrote in its opinion.

“The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board agreed with our clients that the team’s name and trademarks disparage Native Americans. The Board ruled that the Trademark Office should never have registered these trademarks in the first place,” Jesse Witten, the plaintiffs’ lead attorney, said in a press release. “We presented a wide variety of evidence – including dictionary definitions and other reference works, newspaper clippings, movie clips, scholarly articles, expert linguist testimony, and evidence of the historic opposition by Native American groups – to demonstrate that the word ‘redskin’ is an ethnic slur.”

Good job to everyone involved for fighting so hard. The story said this petition was filed EIGHT years ago. So nice to see this issue is finally picking up steam.

Home » Native American Articles » Native American Culture » In Landmark Decision, U.S. Patent Office Cancels Trademark For Redskins Football Team

About Toyacoyah Brown

Toyacoyah Brown is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, currently living in Chicago. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. When she's not scouring the Internet for fun things to share with PowWows.com readers you can find her digging for vinyl in her local record store or curling up with a good book.

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Tali Koga

The comments from this news clip went from a trademark to the name Oklahoma then to Jacksons face on money. These are not the issue here, it’s the insults and degradation of the Indigenous people. As a people not just a tribe a group or a band it’s time to demand that the rights of our Native Heritage and Ancestors not be compromised.

Deborah h

I’m so happy to hear this. Big victories begin with smaller ones. It is so disgraceful that the team owners won’t change the derogatory name to show respect for the first peoples who in my opinion got a raw deal.


If you want to get “PO’d” over something – get PO’s over Jackson’s face still on our money. The Washington Redskin matter is (in my humble opinion) a non-issue.


I really don’t see why the Gov. Has to be involved there are far more important things to worry about and from what I have been hearing there is only a small group who are wanting a change and I am not on board with them as I don’t think it is that big a deal.what about the Cleveland Indians baseball team ? Come on there are a lot of things that I don’t like but that doesn’t give me the right to force others to go by my standards .
To much PC now a days,how about trying to go out and make a change to the real problems that are out there on the Reservations.and with all those who need a job.etc.

marion pbillips

Good about time that Native Americans cultural diversity is respected.

Johni Hiloha'homa

Okla(people)Homa(red) is not Cherokee language it is Chahta(Choctaw).
It was chosen at the time of removals from our traditional lands in Mississippi and elsewhere in the Southeast. Being that the U.S. government promised the territory would be forever(yeah right) to be set aside for 1st nations people as NdN territory the name Oklahoma was deemed most appropriate.

Of course we know the usual outcome of so called promises from the colonial visitors to this continent and what eventually happened.

Yokoke(thank you)


I have to ask. Should the State of Oklahoma change the name of the state because it is a Cherokee word for Red People? Can anyone tell me what the Cherokee meant by this? Thank you

Johnnie Jae

Oklahoma is not a Cherokee word. It is a Chahta word and Red people is not a racial slur. Redskins was what they used on bounty tickets for native scalps.


Sorry its based on Choctaw words. http://www.statesymbolsusa.org/Oklahoma/Oklahomanameorigin.html

I am not saying redskins is not a racial. I am inquiring on the context of the “Choctaw” words. Do you know the historical context. I do not know, which is why I am asking. Thank you for your correction.


I was curious about the validity of this authors article.


Please let me know what you think.

Johnnie Jae

OH Yes that article lol This is what I had to say in response to that blog when it was shared with me. “Oklahoma was never used as slur to disparage indigenous people. When you look at bounty tickets in old news clippings and historical documents, they didn’t say “200 dollars for every Oklahoma sent to purgatory”. They did say, “200 dollars for every R*dskin sent to purgatory”. Although, in my case, if some of the people that have sent me and many other Native women rape and death threats had said “I’m going rape/kill your Oklahoma ass” it would of been accurate. However, it was more along the lines “I’m going to rape/kill your Redskin/Squaw/PrairieN*gger/and I could go on with their terms. The irony is that it’s the R*dskins fans who are helping us get closer to a name change because their behavior and their actions just help us to illustrate that the name is still being used as a slur and that the continued use of the name promotes hate and racism.”

Delbert OwnsPipe

Finally, great job with the first baby steps.

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