WASHINGTON — The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled Wednesday that the Washington Redskins’ name is “disparaging of Native Americans” and should be stripped of trademark protection — a decision that puts powerful new financial and political pressure on the NFL team to rename itself.
By a vote of 2-1, the agency’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board sided with five Native Americans in a dispute that has been working its way through legal channels for more than two decades.
The ruling doesn’t directly force the team to abandon the name, but it adds momentum to the campaign at a time of increasing criticism of team owner Dan Snyder from political, religious and sports figures who say it’s time for a change.
Washington quickly announced it will appeal, and the team’s name will continue to have trademark protection while the matter makes its way through the courts — a process that could take years.
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A similar ruling by the board in 1999 was overturned on a technicality in 2003.
If it stands, the team will still be free to use the name but will lose a lot of its ability to protect its financial interests. It will be more difficult for the team to go after others who print the name on sweatshirts, jerseys or other gear without permission.
Brad Newberg, a copyright law expert in Virginia, estimated the ruling, if upheld, could cost the team tens of millions of dollars per year. Forbes magazine puts the value of the franchise at $1.7 billion and says $145 million of that is attributable to the team’s brand.
• Blake Bortles, the first quarterback taken in last month’s NFL draft, signed a four-year deal worth more than $20.6 million guaranteed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Bortles received a $13.3 million signing bonus. The Jaguars got a team option for a fifth year.
• Troubled running back Mike Goodson was released by the New York Jets after he failed to show up for the team’s mandatory minicamp. Goodson played in just two games for New York before tearing two knee ligaments last October. He faces weapons charges and up to 10 years in prison after being indicted in November.
In other Jets news, Geno Smith has taken most of the reps with the first team during offseason workouts and is all but likely the starting quarterback and Michael Vick is the backup.
• Standout tight end Dallas Clark retired from the NFL after 11 seasons, most with the Indianapolis Colts.
• Colts owner Jim Irsay won’t have to appear in court in Noblesville, Ind., for an initial hearing on the drug-related charges he faces.
The Indianapolis Star reported Irsay’s attorneys filed a motion waiving his appearance Thursday on misdemeanor charges of driving while intoxicated and driving with a Schedule I or II controlled substance in his body.