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Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks

'Redskins' issue isn't a matter for the government

'Redskins' issue isn't a matter for the government

The name “Redskins” is offensive to Native Americans, and we wish that the owners of the National Football League franchise in Washington, D.C., would retire it. But the government's decision to deprive the name of federal trademark protection went too far, and the team has the 1st Amendment on its side in challenging that decision.

In 2014, at the behest of five Native Americans, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the Redskins' trademark registration, citing a federal law that prohibits trademark protection for names that “may disparage ... persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt or...