The Washington Redskins on Thursday said they have filed an appeal challenging a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office board’s decision to cancel some of the team’s trademarks.
A three-judge panel ruled in a 2-1 decision in June that the registrations should be canceled because they were “disparaging” to Native Americans.
“We believe that the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ignored both federal case law and the weight of the evidence, and we look forward to having a federal court review this obviously flawed decision,” the team’s trademark attorney, Bob Raskopf, said in a statement.
The team filed its complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Amanda Blackhorse, one of five plaintiffs in the original trademark case, welcomed the move Thursday.
“It’s a good day to be sued!” she wrote on her Facebook page. “One hour ago the Washington Team filed a lawsuit against Amanda Blackhorse, Marcus Biggs Cloud, Jillian Pappan, Phil Gover and Courtney Tsotigh to overturn the TTABs decision to cancel their racist marks and name. We are ready, it’s game time!”
The initial decision affected six trademarks registered by the team between 1967 and 1990 but had no practical impact. The team retained the right to pursue legal action against any unauthorized use of the marks.
“While this probably is a moral victory for people who don’t like the term, it isn’t going to keep the team from using the term or even suing other people who are,” Kristen Osenga, a law professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, told the Times in June. “I don’t think they are going to lose a whole lot of anything because of this, even if they lose their appeal.”
The trademark board ruled against the Redskins in a similar case in 1999, but that ruling was overturned four years later.