NFL's Washington Redskins Sue American Indians in Trademark Infringement Action
December 1, 2014
The National Football League's Washington Redskins sued a group of American Indians for seeking to block trademark protection for its name, which has been criticized as offensive. The team is seeking to reverse the TTAB ruling that its name is no longer entitled to federal trademark protection. The case is a 22-year long dispute over the Washington Redskin Brand, which is estimated by Forbes to be worth $145 million. Moreover, the NFL franchise was ranked third in the NFL in August and, according to Forbes, is valued to be worth $1.7 billion.
By failing to dismiss the action, the court is permitting the NFL team to challenge the TTAB's decision to cancel six trademarks. If the TTAB's decision is upheld the Washington Redskins would struggle to enforce rights to its name.
NFL team owner, Daniel Snyder said the name was intended to honor Native Americans and it will not change. Jeffrey Lopez, attoreny for the Native American clients stated, "[w]e are disappointed by the court's legal ruling on our motion to dismiss, but our Native American clients remain confident that we will ultimately prevail in this case."
Both sides won subsequent court rulings and reversals, with the case resuming in March 2010 after the U.S. Supreme Court denied review, according to Lee's opinion. The federal board issued its most recent cancellation decision in June, triggering the team's lawsuit.
The case is Pro-Football Inc. v. Blackhorse, 14-cv-01043, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria).