Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office cancelled six trademarks associated with the Washington Redskins, an important step forward in an ongoing battle to change the NFL team’s — let’s be real here — objectively offensive name. Judge Karen Kuhlke found in favor of the plaintiffs, five Native Americans, in Blackhorse v. Pro-Football, ruling that the term Redskins is “disparaging” and thereby violates the Trademark Act of 1946.
What does this mean, exactly? On one hand, not much. The Washington Racial Slurs will of course appeal this ruling, and they’ll continue to maintain sole legal ownership of their name and logo in the meantime. If that should fail, then you, your mom, your neighbor, and your neighbor’s mom would be more than welcome — at least in the federal government’s eyes — to take your very own janky Redskins knockoff shirts, hats, and other branded miscellany to market. Capitalism!
But frankly, that’s neither here nor there. Most importantly, as USA Today predicted in May, this decision represents a “clarion call in a rising tide of pressure on the team and the league” to get their shit right. Isn’t it nice when positive social change happens?