In what some see as the first step to forcing the Washington Redskins football team to change their name, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Wednesday cancelled six federal trademarks of the team name because it's “disparaging” to Native Americans.
“Petitioners have shown by a preponderance of the evidence that a substantial composite of Native Americans found the term REDSKINS to be disparaging,” said the decision.
Fans, however, won’t see any immediate change — even if Daniel Snyder’s team eventually loses in court. That’s because all the order will do is eliminate the trademark the team has on merchandise.
The Redskins are expected to appeal.
But opponents of the name were quick to pounce, expressing hope that it will lead Snyder to reconsider his devotion to the historic name of the team.
“I hope this ruling brings us a step closer to that inevitable day when the name of the Washington football team will be changed,” plaintiff Amanda Blackhorse said, according to Politico. “The team's name is racist and derogatory.”
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid called the team name "racist." He went to the Senate floor just after the trademark decision was made and said the team will be forced to change the name.
"Daniel Snyder might be the last person in the world to realize this, but it is just a matter of time until he is forced to do the right thing and change the name," said Reid.
And Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, one of the papers many who have hopped aboard the anti-Redskins bandwagon, tweeted, "Hail to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Hail Victory!"
The case goes way back to 2006 when five Native Americans filed Blackhorse v. Pro Football with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, claiming that the name violated a law that bars trademark registrations that "may disparage" groups or individuals.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.