Author: Morgan E. Smith
In a high-profile precedential decision, a divided TTAB panel cancelled six REDSKINS trademarks for various entertainment services including professional football contests and cheerleading because the marks contained matter which may disparage a substantial composite of Native Americans. After conspicuously noting that its decision affected registration, not use, of the REDSKINS marks, the Board recounted the first, decades-long challenge to the marks, begun in 1992 and culminating in a D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision that laches barred the petitioners’ claims. Pro-Football, Inc. v. Harjo, 90 USPQ2d 1593 (D.C. Cir. 2009). The Blackhorse petitioners filed this cancellation proceeding while Harjo was pending and focused their claim on whether the term REDSKIN was disparaging to Native Americans.