Congress Kicks off Renewed Effort to Sideline the Washington Redskins Logo
In 2005, the NCAA banned American Indian mascots in post-season play, and in the years since, individual schools and communities have rallied to permanently take the mascots out of play. But professional sports teams have not been quick to follow suit. To this day, the Cleveland Indians take the field and one need not look any further than Washington, DC, to see that the Redskins are still an integral part of the city’s sport’s culture. However, a renewed push to sideline the Redskins name has ramped up in recent months and represents one of the most aggressive campaigns to do away with the name.
In March the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the agency tasked with issuing trademarks, took up whether to cancel the Washington Redskins trademark. The March 7th hearing on the issue was spurred by an appeal that questions whether the Redskins’ trademark aligns with the federal trademark statute (also known as the Lanham Act). The Lanham Act bars the certification of trademarks that “may disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.”
In the wake of the USPTO’s move to evaluate the logo, the House has proposed a bill that would explicitly outlaw the Redskins’ disparaging mascot, entitled the Non-Disparagement of Native American Persons or Peoples in Trademark Registration Act of 2013. On April 15th, that bill was referred to committee for further consideration.
With renewed pressure from Congress and the USPTO, this could be the year that Washington fans finally hang up their Redskins jerseys and start cheering for a new team.
Photo credit David B. King (available on Flickr under a Creative Commons license)