Supreme Court will not hear Washington Redskins trademark appeal

Washington Redskins

WASHINGTON (UPI) — The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the Washington Redskins challenge to a law about offensive trademarks, sending it back to a federal appeals court that has yet to make a decision on the case.

The Redskins requested the Court hear its appeal of a federal government decision to revoke the team’s trademark on the name because it is disparaging to Native Americans. The team says it should be permitted to keep using the trademark

The suit was filed in 2006 by Amanda Blackhorse, who said the nickname “Redskins”is a racist slur that should never have been trademarked.

The Redskins have filed six trademarks on the name since 1967 and have used the name since 1932, though there has been a series of lawsuits asking them to change it. All six of the trademarks were cancelled in 2014 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office because federal law does not allow for offensive or disparaging language to be trademarked.

The first lawsuits against the team were filed in 1992 by Suzan Shown Harjo, with the Patent and Trademark Office canceling the trademarks for the first time in 1999. That decision was reversed on appeal in 2003. Blackhorse filed her first suit in 2003 with Harjo, and the Supreme Court declined to hear that one as well.

The current case, Blackhorse vs. Pro Football Inc., came before the Patent and Trademark Office’s Trial and Appeal Board in 2013, leading to the second cancellation of the trademarks in 2014.

While the Supreme Court has declined to hear the case, a federal appeals court still has not made its decision. And even if the lower court rules against the team, they will likely be able to continue using the name without the trademarks.