Unpacking the Redsk*ns Trademark Challenge

The legal fight to stop the Washington Redsk*ns from using their offensive moniker has created an interesting paper trail — putting a price on the value of the racist name and illuminating how the powerful use their power to defend the status quo. It is a case that raises First Amendment issues and could ultimately put it before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Here is a quick case summary: In June, 2014, the U.S. Patent and Trade Office ruled that the Redsk*ns name was offensive to and disparaged Native Americans, a violation of the Lanham Act. The Redsk*ns trademark remains in effect during the current appeal process. In July, 2015, a federal judge upheld the Patent Office’s decision to revoke the trademark. Pro Football appealed again, and now the case is before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Here are a few takeaways from the various legal briefs:

The racist brand is worth millions and millions of dollars: The Pro Football brief estimated the Washington team’s value at $2.4 billion as of August 2014. Of that, the Redsk*ns brand contributes approximately $214 million. Continue reading