WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — The Washington Redskins now find themselves in the position of having to defend themselves by appealing the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s Wednesday ruling cancelling the team’s six federal trademarks.
Jeffrey Lopez, one of the attorneys representing the five Native American petitioners, on a Pro bono basis, in the lawsuit, launched in 2006, says his law firm, Drinker Biddle, now awaits the Redskins appeal of the ruling, which the team subsequently announced it plans to make.
“We have to wait for them to file that appeal,” Lopez told Lavar Arrington and Chad Dukes, stipulating his firm has spent in excess of 7 or 8,000 hours of attorney time representing the petitioners, which includes Amanda Blackhorse, who laid out her lawsuit on 106.7 The Fan last year.
“So we have gotten our final decision from the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, the Redskins have issued a statement earlier today — indicating that they intend to appeal, obviously we have heard some of the statements from the majority leader of the Senate and various other individuals about their belief that it’s inevitable that the Redskins will change their name — they haven’t done that so far, so we expect that they will try to avail themselves of their legal rights,” Lopez said. “We’ll be ready when that appeal comes in, and we’ll respond accordingly.”
Although, as Lopez notes, “We’re talking about eliminating that federal protection, but the federal government and this board doesn’t have the power to tell the Redskins they can’t call themselves the Redskins. That’s beyond the scope of this lawsuit.”
As for the genesis of the lawsuit, Lopez insists his clients “feel very strongly” the term ‘Redskins’ is a racial slur, despite heavy opposition to such opinions from many, including a sizable group of Redskins fans.
“There has been a lot of misinformation about the derivation and history of the name,” Lopez said. “And there’s also been a focus, I think, on the wrong set of people.”
“The Native Americans, five of whom we represent as petitioners in this case, feel very strongly that this is simply a racial slur,” he said. “Now, I understand that a lot of people who are not Native Americans don’t feel that way, but the Native Americans are the affected people here, and they’re the ones who believe its a slur. And it’s hard to find common ground when the other side says ‘Oh no, it’s not a slur and you shouldn’t take it that way.'”