Attempt to trademark ‘Washington Redskin Potatoes’ rejected by US agency

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied an application to trademark the phrase “Washington Redskin Potatoes,” because it was considered to be an insult to the Native Americans. The trademark agency’s judgment, which was delivered on March 17 read as, “Registration is refused because the applied-for mark includes matter which may disparage or bring into contempt or disrepute persons, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols.”

The name was rejected by the USPTO referring to several definitions in the dictionary that defines the word “Redskin” as a slur against Native Americans. The agency also justified its stand by referring that groups like the National Congress of American Indians that consider the name of the Washington Redskins football team as racist and offensive. Since the year 1992, this was the twelfth such attempt to trademark the controversial word.

The campaign against the term “Redskin” has fired up lately with Indian groups wanting to ban the use of the NFL’s Washington Redskins.

Ray Halbritter, the head of Oneida Indian Nation which initiated the Change the Mascot campaign, celebrated the denial of application for “Washington Redskin Potatoes”. In a statement released by Mr. Halbritter, he said, “Once again, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office is making clear what should be obvious to everyone with a conscience – that ‘Redskins’ is not a term which anyone with common decency would use to address a Native American.” He also said in the statement that though the team assert that the mascot is a term of honour for the team, the fact is that it is a dictionary-defined slur that insults and belittles Native Americans and the R-word has no place in the modern society.

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