U.S. PTO Says ‘No’ To Redskins…Again

March 21, 2014

Redskins TMRemember when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected a trademark application for a brand of pork rinds called “Redskins Hog Rinds” because it was offensive to Native Americans?

That decision was notable for two reasons. First, people eat pork rinds? Okay. Second, and more importantly, it portended bad things for the Washington Redskins NFL team, because the USPTO is poised to hear a case that may result in that team’s trademark being revoked.

Now, there’s more news that might make a Washington Redskins executive start to sweat: The USPTO has rejected a trademark for “Washington Redskin Potatoes” for the same reason.

In the March 17 decision, the examining attorney refused the application because “‘Redskin’ in the mark is a derogatory slang term that refers to, and is considered offensive by, American Indians.”

So, now we have two instances in which a trademark for “Redskin” was turned down for being offensive. Each case is different, of course, but it seems like the evidence in mounting that the USPTO is not keen on granting trademark protection to the term “Redskins.” That means the NFL team might lose its trademark. If it does, it would have no means to prohibit other people from selling “Redskins” merchandise. Fear of losing that revenue stream might prompt the team to change its name, which it has steadfastly refused to do thus far.

Watch this blog for further updates on this issue.

For further reading: “Pork Rinds, Trademarks And The NFL: The U.S. PTO’s ‘Redskins’ Decision’ and “‘Redskins’? That’s Offensive. (Or Is It?)”