Washington Redskins Trademark in Flux

The Washington Redskins’ trademark registration has been cancelled by the Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) after petition by members of the Navajo Nation, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma and Muscogee Nation of Florida.  The PTO found that the Redskins’ six registrations were obtained contrary to Section 2(a), 15 U.S.C 1052(a), which prohibits registration of marks that may disparage persons or bring them into contempt or disrepute.

Notably, this decision affects the right of registration, but not of use.  The team may use the brand, but will have more difficulty protecting against counterfeiters under the decision.  However, the cancellation has been appealed by the team and the trademarks will continue to enjoy protection until that is resolved.  A prior similar ruling was previously overturned on appeal.

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