Redskins owner says he's thrilled with ruling

Robert Mueller

The law used by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to prevent the National Football League team from registering trademarks in and relating to the word "Redskins" and the logos used by the team was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

The ban violates the First Amendment free speech clause and "contrary to the government's contention, trademarks are private, not government speech", said the court in its decision.

The case centered on Oregon-based, Asian-American band The Slants, which was denied a trademark because its name was considered offensive. The team is now appealing a federal judge's decision to uphold the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's cancellation of their trademark, because it is a racial slur and disparages Native Americans (and, per this website's house style, is not fit for print). A federal appeals court in Washington later ruled that the law barring offensive trademarks is unconstitutional.

This stance bodes well for the Redskins, whose registration on their trademark depicting a Native American with feathers in his hair was canceled in 2014 after decades of use.

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Paul Callan, who represented the estate of Nicole Brown Simpson in a civil case against her ex-husband, former football star O.J. He also said he gave Constand three half-tablets of the cold and allergy medicine Benadryl before the "petting" began.

In 2015, Tam won a case in the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

"It seems this decision will indeed open the floodgates to applications for all sorts of potentially offensive and hateful marks", Simpson said to the Washington Post. Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion, which was joined by the rest of the Court in its 8-0 conclusion, albeit not universally in its reasoning.

The 1946 Lanham Trademark Act prohibits the registration of a trademark that "may disparage" a person, community, or institution.

But in a unanimous vote, the Supreme Court said that law violates free expression.

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The larger ramifications from this case are that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office can not refuse trademarks it views as offensive.

In a filing Monday, the Justice Department defended the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board's decision past year to strip the team of protections. Leaving the interpretation of what words or phrases do or do not count as "disparagement" up to a government agency clearly had the potential for disaster, and ran the risk of making free speech protection a matter up to the individual tastes and prejudices of a small and random sampling of PTO officers.

Indian groups opposing the Redskins said the ruling does not change the fact that the name "is a dictionary-defined racial slur".

Losing federal protection did not mean the team could no longer use the term "Redskins". It is widely believed that the court's decision to strike down the ban will provide the Washington Redskins with a crucial boon in their struggle to keep the team's name. But that ruling was overturned in federal court in 2003, and the case died when the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in 2009.

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