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Redskins’ Trademark Revoked

April 3, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Washington Redskins intends to appeal the ruling of a federal panel that the National Football League team should lose its trademark protections because its name may disparage American Indians.

The team said it believed the decision Friday by the three-member Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to cancel the trademark registrations is incorrect and that it will appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit here.

The board had granted a petition filed by seven American Indians in September 1992 to cancel the team’s trademark registrations because of a federal law that prohibits registering ``disparaging″ names and logos.

In its ruling, the trademark board said the derogatory connotation of the word ``redskins″ extends to the football team’s name, such that it ``may be disparaging of Native Americans to a substantial composition of this group of people.″

Suzan Shown Harjo, one of the petitioners, said the board’s ruling sent a strong message that racial slurs should not be accepted.

``This is one of the last vestiges of overt racism right out in public in America, and it happens on a weekly basis during sports season,″ said Harjo, who is president of the Morning Star Institute, an American Indian advocacy group. ``This is the worst name you can call Native Americans in the English language.″

The board’s decision strips the team and NFL Properties Inc. of federally protected exclusive rights for using and licensing the Redskins name and logos for merchandising.

A lawyer for the Redskins, John Paul Reiner, said the ruling does not affect the team’s use of its trademark. ``The club will continue to use it as a team name and license it for logos and merchandising,″ he said. ``This decision affects only the registration.″

In a statement, the club also defended the use of the name, saying: ``The Redskins believe its name honors Native Americans and has for the past 67 years.″

But the trademark board said it was not convinced that American Indians supported the use of the name Washington Redskins and that the petitioners provided evidence to support the opposite conclusion.

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