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U.S. Patent Office Cancels Redskins Federal Trademarks

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Christie Ileto joined WJZ's News Team in the fall of 2012. She was...
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WASHINGTON (WJZ) — A legal blow to the Washington Redskins. The U.S. Patent Office canceled its trademark, calling it disparaging of Native Americans. It’s a move that, if successful, could hit the NFL team where it hurts: its pocketbook.

Christie Ileto explains the move and has fan reaction.

Millions of dollars are on the line after the U.S. Patent Office pulls the Washington Redskins trademark, calling the team name “disparaging” to Native Americans.

“You’re talking about giving up a whole brand identity,” said David Warschawski.

Warschawski owns a sports marketing firm and says there’s a revenue-sharing deal for all NFL owners on merchandising sales. So if the team appeals and loses…

“It will be devastating for the Redskins name, logo and all of the their dollar-making opportunities from trademarks,” he said.

This comes as pressure mounts to change the team name. Their trademark attorney says this doesn’t affect the team’s ownership of and right to use the Redskins name and logo.

This ruling doesn’t mean the Redskins have to change their name but it could be harder to stop unauthorized sales of merchandise with the team’s name and logo on it.

The team’s owner has long vowed he won’t change it but local tribes have said the fight is personal.

“It is offensive to us as indigenous people and that’s what counts,” said one.

“Changing the name has its own implications. You’re talking about building a brand from scratch. But if it holds true to history–initial sales with a new name–it could be a positive,” Warschawski said.

The last time this happened was 1999 but a U.S. District Judge found the trademark office hadn’t explained why the Redskins trademark was disparaging.

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