WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — When the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board delivered its landmark ruling last month, cancelling (pending appeal) the Washington Redskins six federally protected trademarks, the immediate effects were initially unclear.

In time, it became apparent the 2-1 ruling would effectively open the team’s trademarks to reproduction, to any and all willing entrepreneurs, only if and after the appeal process – which could get dragged out in court for years – yielded that ruling to be upheld.

The case – Blackhorse vs. Pro Football, Inc. (the corporate name under which the Redskins conduct business) – was spearheaded by named petitioner Amanda Blackhorse in 2006, and in many ways, didn’t materialize in the public eye until a ruling was made.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, with whom the case was filed, recently informed the Washington Times, in conjunction with the Freedom of Information Act, that of the 13 pages of records outlining any forms of communications with Congress or the public, there is no record of correspondence from the public complaining about the Redskins name prior to the board’s June ruling it was ‘derogatory.’

To be sure, neither was there any request submitted in defense of the team’s name.

Such findings would either suggest that name controversy is perhaps more a conversation among media rather than the public, or the process through which such requests and/or complaints be made is not readily made available to the public.

As the Washington Times notes, six of those 13 pages consisted of a handwritten letter from a man in Lubbock, Tex. Whose position on the team’s name was unclear, while another civilian congratulated the board on its ruling, while also wondering if the judges would “go after” the United Negro College Fund next. Both letters, the Washington Times notes, were submitted after the board’s very public ruling.

Also included, according to the Washington Times, were multiple pages of email correspondence with U.S. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, who has been a consistent activist pushing for the team’s name to be changed.

You can read the official ruling here.

(Read the full Washington Times report here.)


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