WASHINGTON — Redskins President Bruce Allen is “surprised” by a federal court ruling Wednesday to uphold the cancellation of the team’s federal trademark protections.
U.S. District Court Judge Gerald Bruce Lee upheld the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s June 2014 decision to cancel six federal trademarks involving the name “Redskins” on the grounds the term was “disparaging to Native Americans.”
Judge Lee had heard the arguments of both sides two weeks ago ahead of an originally scheduled July 27 trial date, and offered his ruling based on the request for summary judgment from each party.
“I am surprised by the judge’s decision to prevent us from presenting our evidence in an open trial,” Allen said in a written statement. “We look forward to winning on appeal after a fair and impartial review of the case. We are convinced that we will win because the facts and the law are on the side of our franchise that has proudly used the name Redskins for more than 80 years.”
The sudden decision was the result of nearly a decade’s efforts by the five Native American plaintiffs, led by Amanda Blackhorse, who filed to petition the trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2006.
“It’s a wonderful victory for the mascot movement,” Blackhorse told WNEW’s Rob Dawson. “The movement is about humanizing the indigenous identity and demanding respect for who we are, and our existence as native people.”
With the initial ruling affirmed in federal court, the team no longer possesses the legal benefits offered by federal registration, including “legal presumption of ownership,” as well as the ability to record the registrations with the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Service for the purpose of blocking counterfeit goods from being imported into the country.
The team maintains the right to seek further appellate review, which would be heard in the fourth circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. – one step below the U.S. Supreme Court.