The Washington Redskins, an American football team located in Washington DC, have been a prodigious dynasty. In the past, they were a prominent team known for their Superbowl wins in the 1980s and 1990s. However, their significant success in the past has been long forgotten due to their recent struggles with making the playoffs and having an above 0.500 record. Along with these struggles, the Redskins have been facing many issues in American society regarding their team name and logo.
The name of the Washington Redskins was created in 1933 by George Preston Marshall, co-owner of the Redskins, to retain the Native American image of the team.Continually, according to the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN), the team logo–which was an American Indian Chief–was created in 1971 by a Native American. Since the creation of the name and the logo, there have been many disputes regarding its insensitive and racist representations of the Native Americans. On the other side, a few Native Americans believed that the name and the logo represented their culture and educated people about their connections around the world.
Some of the prominent trademarks held by NFL (National Football League) comprising of the trademark Washington Redskins are as under:
|Brand Name||Holder||Holder Country||Status||Application Date|
|Washington Redskins||NFL Properties, LLC.||United States||Active||October 4th, 2007|
|Washington Redskins||NFL Properties Europe GmbH||Germany||Active||May 14th, 2003|
|Washington Redskins||NFL Properties, LLC.||United States||Active||August 18th, 1998|
|Washington Redskins||NFL Properties Europe B.V.||Netherlands||Inactive||April 27th, 1998|
|Washington Redskins||NFL Properties, LLC.||United States||Active||November 28th, 1997|
|Washington Redskins||NFL Properties, LLC.||United States||Active||September 24th, 1997|
|Washington Redskins||NFL Properties Europe B.V.||Italy||Active||March 14th, 1997|
In July 2020, in the wake of the protests after the killing of George Floyd, major sponsors of the football team indicated support for a name change. Considering all the disputes and controversies, the Washington Redskins formally announced their decision to change their name and logo on July 13, 2020. This decision was made by the team management as they were suppressed to decide by the Native American society and FedEx (a huge shipping company that has been signed with the Redskins). According to an interview done by the Washington Post, Ron Rivera who is the coach of the Washington Redskins stated that the team is diligently working to honor the military and the Native American views in their logo and name. The team is looking to create a logo that will build a positive image among fans and sponsors for the next century. Despite the positive intentions regarding the team’s design rebuild, prevalent companies such as Nike and Amazon have temporarily removed the team’s merchandise to show support towards FedEx and urge the Redskins to change their logo.
Although nothing has officially been decided yet, reportedly the Washington Redskins have been suggesting names and logos and may soon come up with a new one. Until the Redskins finalize their new name, they are temporarily going to be called the Washington Football Team.
In the past there has also been a dispute related to the trademarks held by the Redskins. There was a legal effort by Congress to define the term ‘redskin’ to be an offensive and disparaging racial slur to prevent the owners of the football team from being able to maintain federal trademark protection for this name. These efforts have primarily been carried forward in two cases brought before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). While prevailing in the most case in which the trademarks were cancelled, petitioners have withdrawn for further litigation now that the legal issue has become moot due to a decision in another case which found the relevant portion of the trademark law to be an unconstitutional infringement on freedom of speech.
The first action in the dispute occurred in 1992, when Shuzan Shown Harzo, President of the Morning Star Institute, with six other prominent Native Americans petitioned the USPTO to cancel the trademark registrations owned by the Redskins’ corporate entity of Pro-Football, Inc. They based their lawsuit on the claim that federal trademark law states that certain trademark registrations are not legal if they are “disparaging, scandalous, contemptuous, or disreputable.” The legal battle went on for seven years. In 1999 the PTO judges canceled the federal registration of the mark REDSKINS “on the grounds that the subject marks may disparage Native Americans and may bring them into contempt or disrepute.”