Native American Groups File Brief in Support of Trademark Office’s Ban on Disparaging Trademarks

On November 16, 2016, Native American organizations, including the National Congress of American Indians, filed a brief of amici curiae in support of the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (PTO) ban on offensive and disparaging trademarks. The statute at issue before the Supreme Court is Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1052(a), which provides that no trademark will be refused registration because of content unless, inter alia, the trademark “[c]onsists of . . .matter[s] which may disparage . . . …

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Stay Where You Are: Supreme Court Denies Premature Appeal in Redskins Case

On October 3, 2016, the Supreme Court rejected a long-shot appeal from the Washington Redskins, refusing to hear their case prior to the Fourth Circuit’s ruling. The team had attempted the rare “certiorari before judgment” because it wanted its case heard alongside The Slants’ similar case, which was accepted by the court on September 29.

Like the Redskins’ case, the band argued that the board’s refusal to trademark the band name “The Slants” violated its right to free speech. Though the Patent and Trademark …

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Redskins: Trademark Cancellation Worse than Initial Denial

The Washington Redskins are entangled in a trademark battle over its name and is urging the Supreme Court to hear its case. The football team disagrees about the offensiveness of the name and contests the constitutionality of Section 2 (a) of the Lanham Act which bans trademarks that are “disparaging.” Under the act, the government cancelled the Redskins trademarks after 23 years.

The Lanham Act was also the basis for the government’s refusal to register the trademark of the Asian-American rock band the “Slants.” However, …

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Federal Government Urges Against SCOTUS Review in Redskins Case

The federal government is urging against the Washington Redskins’ request for their high profile trademark case, Pro Football Inc. v. Blackhorse, to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court before a ruling by a federal appeals court. The government claims the Redskins have no justification for the move, as the Supreme Court rarely grants certiorari in a case that has not been heard first by a federal appeals court.

The Redskins are claiming the timing is perfect for their case to move to the …

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Government Says Flanax Decision Supports Redskins TM Cancellation, Redskins Fire Back

In the recent case of Belmora v. Bayer, the Fourth Circuit found that standing for §43(a) claim did not have to be premised on United States trademark registration (or even use of the mark in the United States). Instead, the court determined, one only needed to show that there is “a reasonable basis to conclude that the claimant is likely to be damaged by the defendant’s activities in the United States. In making this finding, the Fourth Circuit took note of the absence of …

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Sports Legislation and Regulation in 2016: The Hot Topics (Part II)

In the first part of our look ahead to what are some of the hottest sports legislation topics, we focused on the battle surrounding daily fantasy sports sites FanDuel and DraftKings, along with the FCC’s potential ruling on “linear” online video platforms that offer sports streaming. Today, we’ll look at the fate of the Washington Redskins’ name and a bill that could end sports blackouts.


In July 2015, a federal judge ordered the cancellation of the Washington Redskins’ federal trademark registrations. …

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Redskins to Benefit From Federal Circuit’s Ruling in TM Action

On December 22, 2015, the Federal Circuit came to a conclusion regarding the government’s ban on “disparaging” trademark registrations that will likely support the Washington Redskins in its attempt to recover cancelled trademarks. The Federal Circuit held, in a similar case, that it is unconstitutional for the government to prohibit trademark registrations that it deems to be “disparaging,” as such action violates the First Amendment.

Tuesday’s ruling occurred in a similar case, where Seattle-based rock band — The Slants — were refused a trademark …

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First Amendment Law Professors Back Redskins’ Argument on Appeal

On October 29, 2015, a notable group of First Amendment law professors filed an amicus brief with the Fourth Circuit, supporting the Redskins’ argument that Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act is in violation of the First Amendment.

The case, Pro-Football, Inc. v. Blackhorse, is currently pending in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals where the Redskins have been fighting to reclaim their trademarks that were cancelled by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) last year. The PTO’s revocation of the marks, which …

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The Uphill Fight to Protect The Washington Redskins’ Trademark Continues

On Friday October 30, 2015, the Washington Redskins initiated its appellate argument against the federal judgment upholding the cancellation of the franchise’s trademarks. The appeal to the Fourth Circuit marks the continuation of a two-decade long fight between the NFL franchise and a group of Native Americans who believe that the team name is a disparaging term, in violation of Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act.

In June of 2014, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) cancelled six trademarks under the Washington Redskins name …

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