My father-daughter time was wonderful in London when the news hit about the USPTO ordering cancellation of the six “Washington Redskins” trademarks as disparaging to Native Americans.

Thanks for your patience in waiting for my perspective on the subject — you know I’m thrilled if you know me well, if you know of my involvement in the first successful challenge, or if you’ve read any of my writing here on the topic:

Because so much has been written already on the decision over the past two days, instead of me summarizing or explaining the decision here in detail, I’d suggest you take a look at John Welch’s or Susan Neuberger Weller’s solid coverage of the decision.

What I will say quite happily is that the decision is tight, focused, well-reasoned, and built to withstand the team’s promised appeal.

What I can’t explain is why the team continues to deny what has become so obvious to so many people: The R-Word must go.

Let’s start the countdown now, and don’t forget my prediction from November 2009:

“Some day, I don’t know when, justice will prevail, and some talented branding guru will make a tidy sum re-naming and re-branding this offensive NFL franchise name that could have and should have been re-named long ago.”

So, justice has prevailed (again), and now we’re hopefully getting closer to the second part of my prediction, the re-naming part . . . .

There has been quite a bit of interest in how this trademark dispute started. If you’re interested in the origin of this trademark challege and how it was inspired, here is a New York Times piece from last Fall, and even more recently, here is a piece from the Wall Street Journal:

Next target? How about the registered trademark comprising the visual equivalent of the R-Word?

  • Tim Sitzmann

    I hope you’re right Steve. Although, I’m wondering what the team’s hypothetical re-naming strategy would be.

    One of my objections to the claim that the team was actually “honoring” Native American heritage and culture was that this could done with a (marginally) less offensive name such as the “braves,” “chiefs” (out for an obvious reason), warriors, or even reach an agreement with a specific Native American nation.

    My fear is that they would pick “the Braves” (or some other already-in-use name with Native American-based meaning) and use it to justify the continued use of the current logo, as well as what I assume will be very frequent releases of “throwback” jerseys, uniforms, and other apparel. I’m also weary of the team taking this path in order to create a coalition among sports franchises (and perhaps more importantly, fans) and
    argue that if the Washington Braves/Indians/Etc. have to change their name, all of the teams need to/could be the next target.

    Personally, if the team actually wants to honor Native Americans, they could easily find a traditional symbol of Native American culture that does not turn a Native American into a mascot (and certainly not one with such terrible history as the R-word), such as a culturally significant object, animal, historical reference or figure.