Redskins appeal trademark ruling

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The Washington Redskins formally appealed a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office decision that canceled the trademark on the team’s name. 

The professional football team filed the appeal in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on Thursday after a June ruling by the trademark office found the team’s name to be “disparaging” to Native Americans. That ruling would strip the team of all legal protections for its trademark.

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“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,” said Bob Raskopf, trademark attorney for the team.

Raskopf expressed confidence in a win, pointing to a "virtually identical" case that the team won in 2003.

The filing was expected; the team quickly vowed to appeal after the ruling in June. 

The Patent Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in June found six Redskins trademarks were “disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered,” and as a result should be canceled.

The ruling left the trademarks in place until the court reviews the issue, which could end up taking years. 

The trademark office made a similar ruling in 1999, but the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia reversed the board's decision in 2003 after lengthy litigation.

The team’s appeal argues that Native Americans did not consider the team name disparaging when the trademarks were put in place between 1967 and 1990 — a key factor in the decision.  

The team also claimed the board ruling violated the Redskins's First and Fifth Amendment rights.  

In recent years, the debate over the name has intensified, with 50 Democratic senators and nearly every Democratic Party leader calling for a name change. However, the Redskins and the NFL have continued to defend the name.  

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