McCain: Redskins not a Patent Office issue

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Thursday the controversy surrounding the Washington Redskins name is not an issue to be handled by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. 

While the Arizona Republican stuck to his previous position that he would likely change the name if he owned the team, he said it was not a problem in need of government intervention. 

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“I don’t think it’s a role for the patent office, honest to God,” McCain told the Associated Press Sports Editors conference, according to USA Today. “I kind of thought the patent office was supposed to be involved in patents. But I do believe if the Native American community views this as offensive, then it’s offensive.”

The Trademark Office recently ruled to cancel six of the Redskins' trademarks that include the team name, finding that the term is disparaging to Native Americans. The trademarks will remain in place until a court rules on the issue. 

McCain, who hails from a state with a large Native American population, is one of the few Republicans who has publicly said he would support a name change. 

Earlier this year 50 senators who caucus with the Democrats urged the NFL to intervene to change the name, and President Obama has said he would consider a change if he owned the team. 

McCain said past U.S. relations with the Native American population rank as one of the "darkest chapters in American history."

“So my view, if I were the owner of the team, I’d call them together and have a dialogue with them and I would probably change the name," McCain said.