SBD/Issue 204/Franchises

Judge Rejects Challenge That Redskins Trademark Is Disparaging

The Redskins Friday "scored another victory" in a long-standing fight over their trademark, with U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly "rejecting the latest challenge by Native Americans who say the name is disparaging," according to Del Quentin Wilber of the WASHINGTON POST. The decision marked the second time Kollar-Kotelly has "ruled in favor of the team, which has been fighting to protect millions of dollars in sales of Redskins caps, T-shirts and other merchandise." Kollar-Kotelly ruled that the activists "waited too long to make their challenge, noting that the first trademark -- 'the Redskins,' written in a stylized script -- dated to 1967." The judge revisited the issue after the U.S. Court of Appeals in '05 found that one of the activists, Mateo Romero, "might have legal standing because he was born in 1966." But Kollar-Kotelly found that Romero had "waited too long before joining the legal action," as he had been an adult "for eight years before filing his initial complaint." The judge ruled that by "not filing the challenge in a timely way," Romero "put the Redskins at an unfair economic disadvantage." Kollar-Kotelly noted that between the time Romero turned 18 in '84 and '92, the Redskins' list of merchandise licensees "nearly tripled, and the team invested millions in the name." Wilber noted the team's name has been "in place for about 75 years, and it was not at stake in the litigation," but its "logo and trademark protections were in jeopardy" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/12).

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