Sacked: Justice Department Drops Fight To Strip Redskins of Trademark Protections

350px-Washington_Redskins_logo.svgWithout fanfare, the Justice Department dropped the long fight over stripping the trademark protections from the Washington Redskins football team as an offensive term.  I have long been a critic of the action taken by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and said at the time that the action was flagrantly unconstitutional.  Now millions have been spent but the case is withdrawn in light of the recent decision in Matal v. Tam.


Justice Department lawyer Mark Freeman wrote to the Fourth Circuit to acknowledge that the underlying legal dispute is now resolved: “Consistent with Tam, the Court should reverse the judgment of the district court and remand the case with instructions to enter judgment in favor of Pro-Football.”

I have previously written about my disagreement with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office decision to rescind federal trademark protections for the Redskins as a racially disparaging name. As predicted, the ruling answered  the question raised in the prior column in controversies like the denying of trademark protection to the Washington Redskins. in favor of an Asian-American band calling itself the Slants means the NFL team will prevail in a legal battle to cancel the team’s trademarks because the name is disparaging to Native Americans.


It is worrisome however that Congress never acted to prevent this abuse of trademark and patent laws.  Likewise, as I have previously written, nothing has been done to address how this Court went to such extraordinary lengths to insert itself into a long simmering social and political debate.

It will be interesting if the end of this litigation will impact the move by people in the NFL and football coverage to avoid using the name as opposed to “Washington.”  There still remains a legitimate social debate over the name and whether it is offensive to Native Americans. While many Native Americans are not insulted, it clearly is offensive to many Native Americans and non-Native Americans. That debate can now go forward without the intervention of bureaucrats in declaring the matter resolved.  The team still faces potential social and market pressures from the national campaign to change the name of the team.

18 thoughts on “Sacked: Justice Department Drops Fight To Strip Redskins of Trademark Protections”

  1. Americans that want to continue to live in a nation with maximum individual freedoms – must also respect the freedoms of those we disagree with and those we are even offended by.

    As long as one person’s freedoms aren’t infringing on another person’s constitutional rights, we should at least tolerate it.

  2. I don’t know of anyone, including American Indians that I know, who object to “Redskins”.

    Maybe we all have more serious things to do here…

  3. Although “spent” is technically correct, a more accurate term is wasted. The plaintiffs should be forced to pay all costs associated with their suit. If that doesn’t happen, they will have gotten a free ride, and we the people will pay for their super-sensitivity. By the way, if the plaintiffs merely walk away to regroup for their next attack, I plan to organize people who, like me, will bring a suit to stop all commercial uses of white, anglo (regional), and caucasian to refer to me. I’m none of those things–and government forcing me to live under them is oppressive. Also, I’m sure that’s what has prevented me from earning a seven-figure salary throughout my entire work life. Anyone here care to join me?

    1. Don’t blame me! It was Herman Melville who started it with his “The Town Ho’s Story”!!!

      Personally, I am all for “hidey hidey hidey hoe!” Because weeds are living creatures, too!

      Squeeky Fromm
      Girl Reporter

  4. Is there FCC precedent for fining broadcasters who use words (other than George Carlin’s “seven dirty words” or their equivalent) that some might find offensive? It seems a stretch.

  5. Everybody needs to grow thicker skin. When did we become a nation full of wimps and pu$$ies?

    The Founding Fathers would cringe over what occurs in the supposedly limited federal government they desired to establish.

  6. I am surprised that this article did not begin:

    In a stinging defeat to the Trump Administration, the DOJ withdrew its fight to strip trademark protections from the Washington Redskins!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  7. It was a dumb lawsuit. No “team” should own the rights to the use of a common generic word. Next someone will want to own The Negro League.

  8. Off topic but SOS.
    If you can handle the histeria attempt to read Joy-Ann Reid’s tweets and the amazing lemmings that pile on for validation to the WSJ story about a GOP “operative” who sought Clinton Emails and implied Flynn Connection.These people will not give up. Something has to be there.
    Oh yeah btw,this “operative” just currently happens to be at room temperature.

    I’m sure Glenn Greenwald will tally the retweets.

  9. Now the DoJ needs to drop the charges against former Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

    1. Is there a statutory basis to recover fees in a successful challenge to a refusal to register a trademark? I’m pretty sure Dan Snyder has too much money to qualify under the Equal Access to Justice Act.

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