indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Appeals court keeps 'Redskins' lawsuit alive
Monday, July 18, 2005

A lawsuit seeking to cancel the trademarks of the Washington Redskins football team was revived by a federal appeals court on Friday.

In a unanimous per curiam decision, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals said the case was prematurely dismissed. The plaintiffs, led by activist Suzan Shown Harjo, should be given another chance to prove the trademarks are disparaging to Native Americans, a three-judge panel concluded.

A lower court judge had found that the plaintiffs waited too long make their claim. In October 2003, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly noted that the trademarks were first registered in 1967 but that the lawsuit wasn't filed until 1992.

The D.C. Circuit, however, noted that one of the plaintiffs, Mateo Romero, an artist from Cochiti Pueblo in New Mexico, was only one year old at the time of the first registration. Therefore, Kollar-Kotelly "mistakenly started the clock" in her ruling, the appeals court said.

In reviving the suit, the appeals court said Romero's claim must be examined more fully. The court directed Kollar-Kotelly to consider whether Romero's delay in filing suit causes "prejudice" to Pro-Football Inc., the company that owns the Redskins team.

At the same time, the judges raised some potentially serious questions about Pro-Football's defense. The team has said canceling the marks will cause economic harm. The team also claims the name "Redskins" is not offensive to Native Americans.

"Why should equity give more favorable treatment to parties that harm expanding numbers of people (in which case, under Pro Football's theory, laches runs from the date of harm) than it gives to parties that harm only a few people (in which case laches runs from whenever those people are free of legal disabilities)?" the court asked. "Why should equity elevate Pro-Football’s perpetual security in the unlawful registration of a trademark over the interest of a Native American who challenged this registration without lack of diligence?"

"Why should laches bar all Native Americans from challenging Pro-Football’s 'Redskins' trademark registrations because some Native Americans may have slept on their rights?" the unsigned decision stated.

The decision is latest in the long-running battle between the activists and the owners of the team. In 1992, Harjo and six other prominent members of the Indian community, including legal scholar Vine Deloria Jr. and educator Norbert Hill, asked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the Redskins family of marks.

In April 1999, the group won a significant victory. In the first case of its kind, the patent office's Trademark Trial and Appeal Board said the marks were "disparaging" and subjected Native Americans to "contempt" and "disrepute."

The decision didn't stop the Redskins from using the names but the team immediately appealed, prompting Kollar-Kotelly's ruling.

Indian organizations have backed Harjo's crusade. The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the largest inter-tribal organization, and the National Indian Education Association (NIEA), the largest group of its kind, have called on the Redskins and other teams with Indian imagery to drop their names.

Across the country, colleges, universities and high schools have stopped using Indians as mascots and names. The National Collegiate Athletic Association is considering adopting a policy on the use of Indian symbols.

Appeals Court Decision:
Pro-Football, Inc. v. Harjo (July 15, 2005)

Lower Court Decision:
Pro-Football, Inc. v. Harjo (September 30, 2003)

Patent and Trademark Office Ruling:
Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (1999)

Relevant Links:
Redskins - http://www.redskins.com

Related Stories:
Opinion: It's time for racist mascots to go (07/14)
Seminole Tribe doesn't have problem with mascots (07/05)
Harjo: Ruling expected any day on use of R-word (06/17)
Harjo: NCAA should ban all 'Native' imagery (05/27)
Appeals court enters battle over 'Redskins' names (4/11)
Letter: Redskins owner should drop offensive name (11/11)
Column: It's time for 'Redskins' to go (09/22)
Opinion: Redskins should drop 'offensive' name (01/07)
Seneca Nation invited lawmakers to Redskins game (10/13)
Opinion: Fight against Redskins marks a waste of time (10/07)
NCAI critical of ruling on Redskins trademarks (10/3)
Judge allows team to keep Redskins names (10/2)
Court considers cancellation of Redskins team marks (07/24)
Report: Redskins merchandise worth $5 million (07/24)
Judge to hold hearing on Redskins mark case (7/21)
Opinion: Take Indians out of Redskins (12/02)
On Mascots: 'Redskins' is our n-word (09/16)
White Man: Indians proud of Redskins (5/30)
Opinion: Why Redskins must change (3/4)
Redskins get 'new' old look (2/7)
Redskins uniforms changed, for now (2/6)
Harjo: Seeking 'honor' in R-word (2/4)
Opinion: Redskins is for Indians (1/28)
Letters: More on Redskins name (1/18)
Redskins name OK if it offends (1/17)
As If: Replace Redskins logo (1/15)
Editorial: Redskins honors Native people (1/14)
Letters: Debate over Redskins name (1/14)
Redskins name called 'dehumanizing' (1/10)
Redskins told to pick new name (1/9)
Letter: 'Redskins' honors Native people (1/9)
Opinion: War over Redskins plate (1/7)
Redskins name wanted changed (11/19)

Copyright © 2000-2005 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Pine Ridge's David Michaud wins fighting match (12/19)
Mark Trahant: Old school budgets a better deal for Indian Country (12/19)
Ruth Hopkins: Boycott a repeat offender of cultural appropriation (12/19)
8th Circuit sides with Omaha Tribe in reservation boundary case (12/19)
BIA finalizes rule to add Alaska tribes to land-into-trust process (12/19)
Obama signs measure to extend VAWA tribal provision to Alaska (12/19)
Wyandotte Nation set to break ground on $1.4M cultural center (12/19)
Man from Standing Rock Sioux Tribe charged for cousin's murder (12/19)
Opponents of Cowlitz Tribe plan appeal of gaming land decision (12/19)
Menominee Nation off-reservation casino supporters hold rally (12/19)
Bear River Band hires tribal member as casino general manager (12/19)
Column: Poarch Creek gaming is only thing working in Alabama (12/19)
Column: Wait for decision on Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe casino (12/19)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe inaugurates new leadership (12/18)
Walt Lamar: Cooperation helps address crime in Indian Country (12/18)
Brandon Ecoffey: Tournament shows hope of the Lakota people (12/18)
Editorial: Showing caution for marijuana sales in Indian Country (12/18)
Editorial: New York governor makes right call to outlaw fracking (12/18)
Fines for foes of Tohono O'odham Nation off-reservation casino (12/18)
New York passes over tribes for first commercial casino licenses (12/18)
Factions of Cayuga Nation in court over Class II gaming facility (12/18)
Deadline extended for commercial casino eyed by Quapaw Tribe (12/18)
Opinion: Another casino isn't answer to Connecticut's problems (12/18)
Native Sun News: Youth take on lead role in Dakota memorial ride (12/17)
Mark Trahant: NCAI launches new campaign against racist mascot (12/17)
Norm DeWeaver: Job market is a disaster zone in Indian Country (12/17)
Amanda Blackhorse: Fake chiefs and fake headdresses must go (12/17)
DOI makes $9M in buy-back offers on Coeur d'Alene Reservation (12/17)
Shoshone-Bannock Tribes see success with two bills in Congress (12/17)
Boyd Cothran: Torture justified by treatment of Indian prisoners (12/17)
Rep. Gosar faces criticism over bill that benefits Hualapai Tribe (12/17)
Navajo Nation's highest court dismisses challenge to candidate (12/17)
Column: Tribal voices often minimized in environmental debate (12/17)
Column: Chief Cliff still an undeniably spiritual place in Montana (12/17)
Native activists in Brazil protest land bill with bows and arrows (12/17)
Shakopee Tribe funds Eastern Shoshone Tribe casino expansion (12/17)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.