Native Village
Youth and Education news

December 2009  Volume 4

Court Rejects Appeal Over Redskins Logo
Condensed by Native Village

Washington D.C.: The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from Native Americans to require the Washington Redskins to drop their team trademark.  Natives claim "redskins" is a racial epithet that brings them into contempt, ridicule, and disrepute."

At issue was whether plaintiffs were decades too late in filing a lawsuit, or whether the trademark should have been denied years ago. The legal dispute is over what's called the doctrine of laches -- negligence or delay in asserting a claim.

A lawsuit was first filed in 1992. Among the plaintiffs is Suzan Shown Harjo, a Cheyenne/Hodulgee Muscogee and longtime advocate for Native American rights.

The Redskins name and logo was adopted in 1933. The team said the name honors the Redskins coach at the time, William Henry "Lone Star" Dietz, a Native American.  The team says it has spent "millions of dollars ... promoting, advertising, and protecting its mark."
The question for the courts was interpretation of a federal law that allows cancellation of a registration "at any time" if the trademark comprises "matter which may disparage ... persons, living or dead ... or bring them into contempt, or disrepute."

Native Americans have said the trademark should never have been granted in the first place.

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