19 July 2016Trademarks

Washington Redskins files new brief at SCOTUS

The National Football League (NFL) team the Washington Redskins has asked the US Supreme Court to rule on whether the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) should be constitutionally allowed to cancel trademarks.

The NFL team had six trademarks for the term ‘Redskins’ cancelled in 2014 after the USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) ruled that the term was “ disparaging to Native Americans”.

A group of Native Americans had challenged the registrations, initially obtained between 1967 and 1990.

The decision was based on the fact that the US’s trademark statute, the Lanham Act, does not allow the registration of offensive names.

The brief, which is a reply to an earlier petition for certiorari, was filed on July 15.

According to the  Washington Post, the brief criticised the US Department of Justice’s contention that the Supreme Court should evaluate the Lanham Act’s constitutionality only when it comes to patent office denials, rather than cancellations.

A separate trademark case, which centres on US rock band ‘The Slants’, saw the band’s attempts to trademark its name denied.

The NFL team considers it should be part of that case.

If the Supreme Court chooses not to take up the case, the team could take its arguments to the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

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More on this story

26 April 2016   National Football League club the Washington Redskins has filed a petition at the US Supreme Court asking it to hear the club’s high-profile trademark dispute, even though an appeals court has yet to rule on the issue.