WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton is celebrating the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s ruling Wednesday, canceling the Redskins’ six federal trademark registrations (pending the appeal process), a decision reached over the name’s “disparaging” nature.
Norton has remained adamant in recent years the name is offensive, putting her name, along with the names of nine other members of Congress on a letter sent out in May 2013 to Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, the Redskins sponsor, FedEx, and the 31 other NFL franchises, insisting the name be changed. Also, she cosponsored a bill to cancel the trademark registrations containing the term ‘Redskins,’ which seems fortuitous at this moment.
“The handwriting was almost indelibly on the wall that this historic decision was close to inevitable if the USPTO followed its own precedents,” Norton said Wednesday.
This line bares a striking resemblance to a statement made Tuesday by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who’s also pushed heavily for a name change.
“The decision today by the Patent and Trademark Office makes one thing very clear,” Reid said. “The writing is on the wall. It is on the wall in giant, blinking, neon lights. This name will change and justice will be done for the tribes in Nevada and across the nation who care so deeply about this issue.”
“The USPTO’s first decision finding the name ‘disparaging’ was not overturned on the merits but on a technicality, and on four separate occasions since then, the USPTO has turned down attempts to register the same name,” Norton continued. “As if that were not enough, a grassroots movement led by Native people themselves and organizations that represent them has spread with allies of every background and Members of the House and Senate.
“Team owner Daniel Snyder instead tried to turn the name on its head, but there was no way to put a positive cover on a name with racist origins. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s failure to exercise the needed leadership guaranteed that it would take the law to force a change.
“We in the District of Columbia are particularly relieved about the ruling, which upholds values of the people of the District of Columbia. Goodell still has an opportunity to exercise some leadership. He, the other NFL team owners and FedEx should urge Snyder not to appeal this ruling. It is time for the team and the NFL to put this issue to rest.”