The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has canceled the trademark registration for the Washington Redskins. (Source: MGN)
Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III participates in offseason training camp in Richmond, VA. (Source: WWBT)
(RNN) - The United States Patent and Trademark Office issued a landmark ruling Wednesday that canceled the trademark registration for the Washington Redskins.
The ruling in the case, Blackhorse v. Pro Football, Inc., covers "trademarks consisting in whole or in part of the term Redskins for professional football-related services," according to the written decision.
The U.S. Patent Office said it reached the decision because the name "may disparage persons or bring them into contempt or disrepute," a violation of federal trademark law.
The suit was filed on behalf of Amanda Blackhorse and four other people.
One of the team's defenses for the name was laches, a legal term that argues against recovery of damages because of undue delay.
The decision cancels registrations issued between 1967 and 1990.
"We decide, based on the evidence properly before us, that these registrations must be canceled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered," the decision read.
Daniel Snyder, owner of the NFL's Washington franchise, has come under fire and faced pressure to change the name for several years. That pressure intensified in May 2013 when he told a USA Today reporter to print in all caps that he would never change the team's name.
Numerous amateur teams have abandoned nicknames and mascots that reference Native Americans. In 2005, the NCAA began cracking down on mascots it deemed "hostile or abusive."
Professional teams, including the Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians, have made efforts to make the portrayal of their mascots less offensive.
The franchise was originally named the Braves when principal owner George Preston Marshall formed the team in 1932. The following year, the name changed to Redskins, and in 1937 they moved to Washington DC.
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