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Redskins File Appeal to Trademark Ruling

The Redskins have filed an appeal to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's ruling that would strip the team of some of their trademarks.

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Redskins had two months to appeal the USPTO's ruling that was handed down on 6/18/14, and they have filed that appeal today the team has announced.

The Redskins lost federal protection of six of their trademarks after the board ruled 2-to-1 that their name was disparaging to Native Americans. Because no action will be taken until the appeals process is complete, the organization faces no financial losses right now. All federal trademarks remain in effect.

Which court will likely hear the appeal?

The Eastern District of Virginia was the fastest in the country at moving cases to trial as of 2013. It averaged just 11.1 months vs. 23.8 for all other federal courts. Any further appeals would likely be heard at the United State 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond.

The Redskins official statement:

Today the Washington Redskins NFL team filed its appeal of the split decision of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (the "Board") ordering cancellation of the Washington Redskins’ long-held federal trademark registrations. The appeal is in the form of a complaint, effectively starting the litigation anew, this time in a federal court before a federal judge, and not in the administrative agency that issued the recent split decision. "We believe that the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ignored both federal case law and the weight of the evidence, and we look forward to having a federal court review this obviously flawed decision," said Bob Raskopf, trademark attorney for the Washington Redskins. The Washington Redskins’ complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, explains why the Court should reverse the Board’s order and properly find that Native Americans did not consider the team name "Washington Redskins" to be disparaging during the relevant time frame of 1967-1990. While the complaint points out the many errors in the Board’s decision, the federal judge may disregard the Board’s decision entirely in conducting its own independent evaluation of the evidence. The complaint also asks the federal court to consider the serious Constitutional issues that the Board lacked the authority to address. Specifically, by cancelling valuable, decades-old registrations, the Board improperly penalized the Washington Redskins based on the content of the team’s speech in violation of the First Amendment. The complaint also alleges that the team has been unfairly deprived of its valuable and long-held intellectual property rights in violation of the Fifth Amendment. "The Washington Redskins look forward to all of the issues in the case being heard in federal court under the federal rules of evidence. The team is optimistic that the court will correctly and carefully evaluate the proofs, listen to the arguments, and confirm the validity of the Washington Redskins’ federal trademark registrations, just as another federal court has already found in a virtually identical case," Raskopf said. While the case is in federal court, the Washington Redskins’ federal trademark registrations remain in full force and effect. As always, the Washington Redskins has the right to use its marks and to enforce them against infringers and counterfeiters.

The original ruling:

Redskins patent ruling

Stay tuned for any updates or statements here.

[UPDATE: 8/15/14 9:30AM] The official court filing.

Pro-Football v. Blackhorse - WASHINGTON REDSKINS Trademark Appeal by Mark H. Jaffe