On Wednesday, July 08, a federal judge ordered the cancellation of the Washington Redskins’ federal trademark registrations. United States District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee ruled that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office should cancel the team’s trademark, finding that the name “may disparage” Native Americans.
Judge Gerald Bruce Lee’s decision affirmed the earlier ruling by the federal Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. In that ruling, the appeal board held in a 2-1 vote that the team’s moniker is offensive to Native Americans and therefore ineligible under the Lanham Act for federal trademark protection.
More importantly, he also rejected the team’s claim that Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act is a violation of the First Amendment. In doing so, he explained that cancelling the registrations of the team’s marks does not implicate the First Amendment as the cancellations do not burden, restrict, or prohibit the team’s ability to use the marks.
The cancellation does not go into effect until the team has exhausted the appeals process in the federal court system, with the next step being the United States Supreme Court. A spokesperson for the Redskins stated that the team was considering its legal options in wake of the decision.