On Wednesday, The United States Patent Office ruled the Washington Redskins federal trademarks for its name must be canceled because the moniker is “disparaging of Native Americans.”
According to TheBlaze, the 2-1 ruling means that the team can continue to use the Redskins name, but it would lose most of its ability to protect the financial interests connected to its use. For example, if others printed the name on apparel or other team material, it would be more difficult for the team to go after those groups.
On radio Wednesday, Glenn reacted to the ruling by questioning whether we are actually living in the United States of America anymore. And on radio this morning, Bob Raskopf, trademark attorney for the Redskins, called in to discuss what comes next.
The debate over the political correctness of the Redskins name has been raging for quite some time, and team owner Daniel Snyder has, thus far, refused to cave to the pressure. In the aftermath of the Patent Office’s ruling, Redskins president Bruce Allen reportedly said, “We’ll be fine.”
Throughout his conversation with Glenn, Raskopf maintained a similar tone as he explained the finer details of the decision.
“First of all, [the trademark] hasn’t been thrown away. I think everybody needs to know we still own this. It is not canceled,” Raskopf said defiantly. “Just like last time, it was an 11-year period between the time the trademark board issued their adverse rule and the time we ultimately prevailed. I don’t think it will take that long this time, but these are valid, subsisting, and fully enforceable marks, registrations. Nothing has changed.
“They can’t be canceled and will not be canceled while this proceeding continues,” he continued. “So I hope the Redskins fans aren’t worrying about whether the marks are still registered because they clearly are and will continue to be.”
One of the reasons Redskins brass has refused to contemplate a name change is because of the history the moniker holds. Glenn asked Raskopf to explain the tradition.
“[The franchise] was using Boston Braves, but that conflicted with the Boston Braves baseball team, so the name got changed to another laudatory term for Native Americans. That was the story. Then we built on that for years and years ago and years. We built brand recognition, and we turned it into one of the most valuable names in all of sports. Washington Redskins, by any measure is one of the most valuable trademarks in all of sports,” Raskopf said. “So we have done a lot with it in a positive way… Just look at the record in this case, look at what the witnesses have said, and you will find your record that’s completely at odds with what is being advertised.”
While Raskopf appreciates the groundswell of grassroots support the Redskins have received in the face of this controversy, he believes the franchise will prevail regardless because the evidence is simply not there.
“We have unbelievable support, but we keep the support close to us. It’s hard to be critical, I think, of the decision at this time in history… so I don’t want to put anybody in a difficult position. We have a lot of support at the grassroots level, in my mind,” he explained. “And not only do we have it in my mind, but where is the support in the record in this case that they have the burden of proof of coming up with? It’s not there.”
When you consider the names of other sports teams – the Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Braves, Golden State Warriors, Florida Seminoles, etc. – Glenn wondered what impact this ruling will have on future cased.
“You brought up the Braves,” Glenn said. “Would this affect the Braves and the Indians and everything else?”
“No, it would have no effect. Each of these stands on its own,” Raskopf responded. “Every record stands on its own, so I don’t even want to think about anyone having to trouble based on whatever might happen here. There’s no overlap.”
Ultimately, for any Redskins fan or freedom loving American concerned about whether the team might succumb to pressure, Raskopf offered a bit of reassurance.
“Is there any point that the club just says it’s just not worth it anymore,” Glenn asked.
“I don’t think that’s ever going to happen. That’s not going to happen. This is a valuable brand,” Raskopf concluded. “ We are going to get through this… and we’ll be right where we are now, which is: We own a famous mark, it is valid, and it is valuable.”