Washington Redskins Continue to Fight Cancellation of its Federal Registration


The Washington Redskins are putting up a serious fight against the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s (“TTAB”) decision to cancel its federal registration for the mark ‘REDSKINS’ because of the mark being disparaging in violation of the Lanham Act.

On Tuesday, August 5, the Washington Redskins filed a notice of appeal in the Fourth Circuit. The team’s owner, Daniel Snyder, even stated he would be prepared to take the case all the way up to the Supreme Court if the Court of Appeals rules against him. Whether or not the Supreme Court will hear the case is an entirely different issue.

Why Keep Fighting?

Why are the Washington Redskins fighting so hard to maintain its federal trademark registration? As we discussed in our previous post about the Redskins, the team still most likely has significant common law rights in the name. So what is the point?

The point is that there are significant benefits to owning federal trademark registration:

1) putting everyone on notice of ownership of the mark as of the registration date;

2) serves as evidence of the validity and exclusive ownership of the trademark for the goods and services listed;

3) grants the right to sue in federal court and in certain cases, obtain treble damages and attorney fees;

4) entitles you to certain statutory damages in the case of counterfeiting, which nullifies the burden of having to prove actual damages to receive a monetary award;

5) provides a basis for foreign registrations;

These are just some of the benefits that come along with a federal registration. Additionally, the Washington Redskins have no doubt invested an incredible amount of money into branding its organization with the ‘REDSKINS’ trademark. To rebrand would undoubtedly cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars.

We will keep you posted on the appeal before the Fourth Circuit and any additional case developments.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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