indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
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...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Tim Giago: Oglala Sioux people aren't afraid to say no to easy cash (9/1)
Native Sun News: Release of secret uranium mining data ordered (9/1)
Mark Trahant: It's past time for tribal leaders to govern the nation (9/1)
Jennie Stockle: A safe space for opponents of offensive mascotry (9/1)
John Christian Hopkins: A big thank you to the friend I never met (9/1)
National Museum of the American Indian celebrates 10th birthday (9/1)
Mother arrested in connection with child's death on Navajo Nation (9/1)
Opinion: Energy development can help secure tribal independence (9/1)
Cherokee Nation announces $170M casino and retail development (9/1)
Tunica-Biloxi Tribe won't be sharing gaming revenues this quarter (9/1)
Seminole Tribe on track to see gaming revenues increase to $2.1B (9/1)
Eastern Shawnee Tribe to reopen gaming facility in February 2015 (9/1)
Editorial: Tohono O'odham Nation didn't play by 'rules' with casino (9/1)
Opinion: Gaming good for Eastern Cherokees but not for fellow tribe (9/1)
Opinion: Federal recognition only means more casinos in California (9/1)
Native Sun News: Tribes walk out of contract support cost meeting (8/29)
Clara Caufield: Northern Cheyenne Tribe spends $2.4M on property (8/29)
Mike Johanns: Retracing steps of great Ponca Chief Standing Bear (8/29)
Steven Newcomb: Racist mascot a sign of deeper problems in US (8/29)
Lauren Jones: Affordable Care Act benefits Native Americans too (8/29)
Gila River Indian Community to see $77.6M from Cobell buy-back (8/29)
Energy boom linked to rise in human trafficking in Indian Country (8/29)
Navajo man heads up Native American Homelessness Task Force (8/29)
9th Circuit hears case over Yakama Nation tobacco manufacturer (8/29)
WAER: ICWA matters handled in 'kangaroo courts' in South Dakota (8/29)
MPR: Red Lake Nation opposes liquor license near dry reservation (8/29)
Tule River Tribe helps remove marijuana operation on reservation (8/29)
Omaha Tribe signs agreement with EPA to improve utility services (8/29)
Las Vegas Paiute Tribe rejected 'gift' from NFL team's foundation (8/29)
KPLU: Spokane Tribe maintains close ties with baseball franchise (8/29)
Opinion: HUD loan program a small step to boost Indian housing (8/29)
DNA study finds distinct population of Native people in Arctic area (8/29)
Tribes closely watching Big Lagoon Rancheria casino land dispute (8/29)
Tohono O'odham Nation to build off-reservation casino in phases (8/29)
State questions Forest County Powatatomi Tribe's slot machines (8/29)
Quapaw Tribe eyes local support for commercial casino in Kansas (8/29)
Native Sun News: Police officers who shot Indian teen get medals (8/28)
Cara Cowan Watts: Laying the groundwork for college scholarship (8/28)
Rudolph Ryser: Indigenous nations need leverage to bring change (8/28)
DOI extends $100M in Cobell buy-back offers on two reservations (8/28)
Cobell buy-backs could return over 38K acres to tribe in Montana (8/28)
Five-year-old Navajo boy sent home from school for his long hair (8/28)
Three charged with murder for death of Mississippi Choctaw man (8/28)
Lummi Nation seeks cooperation after ruling in treaty rights case (8/28)
Artist Gregg Deal takes on Indian mascots for performance piece (8/28)
Sports announcer won't use Washington NFL team's name on air (8/28)
Recruiter from Spokane Tribe's college selected for Peirone Prize (8/28)
California tribes support release of water to benefit salmon runs (8/28)
Southern Ute Tribe invests $2B in big energy production system (8/28)
County hires lobbying firm to oppose federal recognition reforms (8/28)
Tohono O'odham Nation breaks ground for off-reservation casino (8/28)
Cherokee Nation starts construction on casino at Indian allotment (8/28)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe responds to opponents in casino suit (8/28)
Jamul Band continues work on $360M casino after victory in court (8/28)
Editorial: Forest County Potawatomi Tribe ups ante in casino feud (8/28)
Ho-Chunk Nation launches outreach effort amid casino expansion (8/28)
Nebraska Supreme Court hears arguments over gaming initiative (8/28)
Tim Giago: Greedy lawyers and government ruin Cobell settlement (8/27)
Native Sun News: Facility in Montana set to house Indian inmates (8/27)
Gerald Gipp: National strategy needed to reform Indian education (8/27)
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.