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Redskins: Trademark Board Was Split

washington-redskins

The Redskins organization, through their attorney, Bob Raskopf, issued a press release (cited below) emphasizing up front that the ruling striking down the Redskins trademark registrations was a split decision.

Mr. Raskopf’s statement followed swiftly on the heels of the U.S. Patent Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s decision on June 18th to cancel six Redskins trademark registrations. The dissenting board member, Marc Bergsman, expressed his surprise that a “substantial composite” of the Native American population was not represented.

The press report rebuts the Appeal Board’s decision on the ground that a majority of the represented parties to the action were not in evidence. As in the ruling of 2003, which was later overturned, Mr. Raskopf sees no difference in the Board’s decision of last week. The “current claim is virtually identical … We expect the same ultimate outcome here.”

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New Expectations

In the intervening eleven years, social expectations may have changed. Growing awareness of the Redskins controversy in sports and news media, as well as public outcry, have recently led to more vocal opposition. CNN says the football organization is under “deserved” fire for the name. MSNBC has been hounding the NFL franchise for months. Fox News points out that though the ruling has no mandate, the momentum for a name change grows.

The Board’s June 18th decision includes language that seems unequivocal, finding that the affected racial group was subjected to “contempt, ridicule and disrepute” as a result of the team’s name.

Is There More to the Debate?

ABC News defines the debate a little further. What constitutes a racial slur? How many in a respective populace find it offensive? Mr. Raskopf’s main point is that the Native American population is not adequately represented in this petition to deem the Redskins trademarks broadly offensive.

Mr. Raskopf is supported by many fans in D.C. and Virginia surrounding areas who say the name was chosen out of respect and admiration for the legendary warriors of their colonial history. They stand up as people who care about and honor their traditions, and want to see them preserved.

Mr. Raskopf is retained by Pro-Football, Inc., whose law firm, Quinn, Emanuel, Urquhart & Sullivan, headquartered in Los Angeles, is ranked as one of the top litigation firms in the United Sates.

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