WASHINGTON, D.C. (WIVB) – The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the Washington Redskins’ trademark on Wednesday, calling the name disparaging to Native Americans.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” according to University at Buffalo Professor of Transitional Studies Don Grinde, who has spent decades in the battle to get changes in the names of sports teams that are offensive to Native Americans like him.
“In Merriam-Webster, the definition of Redskin is a racial slur,” said Grinde. “As a child, growing up, I was called that and most often in front of redskin was ‘thieving, dirty, dumb’ and other kinds of things.”
While this ruling doesn’t force the team to change its name, it takes away the team’s ability to block counterfeit merchandise.
“If they lose the trademark, then people in the parking lot can sell the exact same t-shirts for much cheaper.”
At training camp, some of the team members weren’t sure what to say about he ruling.
“That’s way over my head, man. I can’t comment on that,” said Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo.
Quarterback Robert Griffin III said, “Our job as players is to focus on what we can on this field, day in and day out, and let the league people take care of that stuff.”
Wide Receiver Santana Moss wondered aloud, “For all these years, this is how I look at it, for all these years…now it’s a problem? That’s the only thing I ask myself and after that I just leave it alone because I’m wondering what makes it so offensive now.”
Professor Grinde says more than half of the derogatory team names have been abandoned at the college and high school levels.
Lancaster Central School has been studying the issue all year, but as of now their team is still called the Redskins.
This ruling is expected to be appealed and may take several years to go through the legal system.