Supreme Court rejects trademark appeal from Washington Redskins

Ben Rohrbach
Shutdown Corner

Sell all the Washington Redskins paraphernalia you want. There’s nothing Dan Snyder can do about it.

Well, hawking T-shirts and such is a little more complicated than that from a common law standpoint, but Snyder still owns an NFL team that cannot seem to secure its federal trademark registrations.

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The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the Redskins, who hoped to reverse an earlier U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruling that canceled the team’s trademarks based on a policy that “prohibits registration of marks that may disparage persons or bring them into contempt or disrepute.”

The Washington Redskins are still a team without a trademark. (Getty Images)
The Washington Redskins are still a team without a trademark. (Getty Images)

In their appeal, the Redskins cited a list of ridiculously offensive trademarks, including DUMB BLONDE beer, CRACKA AZZ SKATEBOARDS, WHITE GIRL WITH A BOOTY apparel and OH! MY NAPPY HAIR shampoo. The team argued the nickname was not offensive to Native Americans, even though the PTO canceled the team’s six trademarks at the request of Native American activists who found the term offensive and, by definition, “a ‘redskin’ is the scalped head of a Native American, sold, like a pelt, for cash.”

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While that compelling argument wasn’t enough to sway Ruth Bader Ginsburg & Co., the nation’s top court agreed last week to hear a case brought forward by Asian-American rock band The Slants, which challenged the PTO’s policy based on the band’s First Amendment rights, according to multiple reports. A ruling in favor of the band would also be a victory for the Redskins, for what that’s worth.

In July 2015, a federal judge upheld the PTO’s 2014 ruling against the Redskins. According to reports, the team wanted their argument lumped in with the band’s case, even before a federal court ruled on their appeal, which is yet another strange way of doing business by Snyder and his Redskins.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don’t Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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