A federal judge on Wednesday demanded the cancellation of the Washington Redskins’ federal trademark registrations, marking a major loss for the NFL team, The Washington Post reported.
US District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee affirmed a prior ruling stripping the club of all legal protections to use the name. The decision was made after activists filed a petition to the federal Trademark Trial and Appeal Board describing the team name as offensive toward Native Americans.
“We decide, based on the evidence properly before us, that these registrations must be cancelled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered,” the board wrote in its 18 June 2014 opinion.
Bruce Allen, the team’s president, issued a statement saying the team will now appeal the ruling.
“I am surprised by the judge’s decision to prevent us from presenting our evidence in an open trial. We look forward to winning on appeal after a fair and impartial review of the case. We are convinced that we will win because the facts and the law are on the side of our franchise that has proudly used the name Redskins for more than 80 years.”
The Redskins filed suit against five Native American activists after the group convinced the court to rule against the NFL team name in 2014.
Blackhorse, one of the activists who lives on a Navajo reservation in Arizona, told the Post that the ruling has a long-lasting impact on the perception of Native Americans.
“This case is about humanizing the indigenous identity. I have asked this many times before and have never heard a sensible answer — if people wouldn’t dare call a Native American a ‘redskin’ because they know it is offensive, how can an NFL football team have this name?”
The club has fought to defend their trademark since 1992, which has remained under fire by activists in the years since. Mr Lee said that the team remains free to use the name on merchandise but loses all legal protection. However, the ruling will remain effective until the appeals process has concluded.
Daniel Snyder, the Redskins team owner, vowed in 2014 that the team’s logo would never be changed. He then told ESPN that the name celebrates and honours Native Americans.
“A Redskin is a football player. A Redskin is our fans. The Washington Redskins fan base represents honor, represents respect, represents pride. Hopefully winning. And it’s a positive. Taken out of context, you can take things out of context all over the place. But in this particular case, it is what it is. It’s very obvious.”