Blackhorse vs Pro-Football Inc.
What does the Redskin decision mean?
Essentially the decision by the US Patent Trademark Office now allows for the bootleg shirts and merchandise bearing the Redskins name and design mark are now legal and the NFL Football team and its owner Daniel Snyder cannot go after them in a court of law. Now what some people are missing on this is the actual design mark or logo of the Native American associated with the team is still fine as of this decision. The Trademark Office has taken away the protection the Washington Redskins enjoyed in regards to the Redskins name and design mark. The team can still operate and use the name and the design mark without issue.
Of course everyone should remember there is an appeal process and Daniel Snyder has plenty of money and is going through that appeal process to protect the Redskins mark they had filed with the US Patent Trademark Office. It is to Snyder’s benefit to have the protection of the US Patent Trademark Office as it would to any unique business that have an original name or logo they would like to protect and claim as their own within an industry.
For this case it will be decided on whether the name is disparaging to the Native American population. There is a 2 prong test to determine the issue of disparagement: 1) considers use of a proposed mark in the context of its commercial use and 2) if the word or phrase refers to identifiable persons and whether the meaning may be disparaging to a “substantial composite” of the referenced group. The phrase “substantial composite” will be the key as the Redskins have introduced evidence of numerous Native American Communities not being offended by the term in its use with the NFL Team.
The Florida State Seminoles have actually worked with the Seminole tribe to authentic their representation so that is honors that Native American community. In time we will see the evidence put on by Snyder and his legal team. Click Here to read an interesting article with the decision attached to it.