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WITH THE NFL BANKROLLING ITS APPEALS, THE REDSKINS CONTINUE TO DEFEND ITS TRADEMARK REGISTRATIONS, CITING TO A LAUNDRY LIST OF “OFFENSIVE” TRADEMARKS

Updated: May 28

By Manotti L. Jenkins


This past summer, it was revealed that the NFL is bankrolling the Redskins’ appeals of the cancellation of six of its trademark registrations, as ordered by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (“USPTO”) in July 2014 and affirmed by a Virginia federal court in July 2015. On the strength of the NFL’s deep pockets, the Redskins have appealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that the USPTO has fostered arbitrary enforcement by granting trademark registrations that the team believes are “racist, or misogynistic, vulgar, or otherwise offensive,” while ruling to cancel the Redskins’ registrations. This case is likely to go up to the Highest Court in the land, and don’t be surprised if the final decision comes down along ideological lines.



I blogged this past July on the decision by the E.D. of Virginia affirming the USPTO’s cancellation of six Redskins trademarks, pursuant to Section 2(a) of the Lanham (Trademark) Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a), on grounds that the “Redskins” trademark registrations contained matter that “may disparage” a substantial composite of Native Americans and bring them into contempt or disrepute at the time of the trademarks’ registrations (1967, 1974, 1978 and 1990). In that writing, I also predicted that the Redskins would appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and that it was likely the case would go up to the U.S. Supreme Court.


At the end of last month, the Redskins’ lawyers initiated the appeal, which also seeks to overturn the rulings of the USPTO and the Virginia district court on federal Constitutional grounds, citing to the First Amendment and alleged unconstitutional vagueness. The appeal reads: “To our knowledge, of the over three million trademarks registered since 1870, no registration has ever been retroactively cancelled for being disparaging. The Redskins are the first and only. The name is over 80 years old, and the registrations nearly 50.” The Redskins’ high-priced lawyers cite to the following partial list of name brands that have been registered by the USPTO that the Redskins argue could be considered offensive:


  • TAKE YO PANTIES OFF clothing

  • DANGEROUS NEGRO shirts

  • SLUTSSEEKER dating services

  • DAGO SWAGG clothing

  • DUMB BLONDE beer

  • TWATTY GIRL cartoons

  • BAKED BY A NEGRO bakery goods

  • BIG TITTY BLEND coffee

  • RETARDIPEDIA website

  • MIDGET-MAN condoms and inflatable sex dolls

  • JIZZ underwear

  • TEENSDOPORN.com

  • MILFSDOPORN.com

  • THUG PORN

  • GHETTO BOOTY

  • CRACKA AZZ SKATEBOARDS

  • OH MY NAPPY HAIR shampoos

  • LAUGHING MY VAGINA OFF entertainment

  • NAPPY ROOTS records

  • BOOTY CALL sex aids

According to the Redskins’ lawyers, “Word limits prevent us from listing more.”


The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has historically been considered conservative and inclined to side with institutions like the Washington Redskins on an appeal of this nature, involving issues of free speech, vagueness and IP branding. As such, it would not surprise me if the Fourth Circuit overturned the rulings of the USPTO and the E.D. of Virginia and sided with the Redskins. I have no doubt that this matter will be briefed and argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016. Candidly, as an opponent of the Redskins trademark registrations, I am bracing myself for a disappointing 5-4 decision upholding the registrations.

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