indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Indian Law Online Master Degree
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

Printer friendly version
Court considers cancellation of Redskins team marks
THURSDAY, JULY 24, 2003

A federal judge heard sharply divergent views on Wednesday about the use of the Washington Redskins name, with both sides of the dispute asking for a final decision in the long-running controversy.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly held a hearing to address summary judgment motions filed by Pro-Football Inc., the corporation that owns the Redskins, and a group of Native Americans led by activist Suzan Shown Harjo. During the three-hour proceeding, lawyers sparred over the central issue in the case -- whether the name is offensive to American Indians.

"The notion that any of this is respectful is clearly nonsense," said Michael A. Lindsay, who represents the Native Americans.

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. They cited a law that prevents registration of marks that disparage any race, religion or group.

In April 1999, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, which is part of the patent office, handed the group a significant victory. The board's ruling said they were "disparaging" and subjected Native Americans to "contempt" and "disrepute."

Pro-Football appealed the decision and is asking Kollar-Kotelly to throw it out. Robert Raskopf, an attorney for team owner Dan Snyder, said the board relied on faulty evidence of a few activists who do not represent the views of Indian Country.

"The record is devoid of substantial evidence that a substantial composite of Native Americans are disparaged" by the Redskins, he told the court.

Even though national organizations like the National Congress of American Indians and the National Indian Education Association have opposed the name, Raskopf argued that the complaints have come too late. Since the first Redskins mark was approved in 1967, the challenges should have come then, he said.

Lindsay countered that the harm to Native Americans continues today. "You are depriving everyone else who becomes disparaged later on," he said, noting that one of the complainants, artist Mateo Romero, was born in 1968.

At the height of the controversy in 1999, Snyder purchased the team for a record $800 million, according to news accounts. He has refused to change the name and was forced to testify not just once, but twice in the case. His recent deposition, which took place in May, had to be ordered by the court because he refused to answer questions the first time around.

Snyder's testimony remains under seal, as does much of the financial information about the team's worth. Pro-Football argues that cancellation of the marks will be an enormous blow to a brand name that has been 25 years in the making.

After the hearing, Harjo said the exact opposite was true. "You'd make a fortune off the sale of memorabilia alone," she said.

Kollar-Kotelly had a list of questions for both sides, including whether the case was brought too late, what standard she should apply in examining the record and whether she can reverse the board's decision or send it back to the agency for additional review. She asked for additional arguments due by the end of next week. She took the case under advisement and did not give any indication of when she might rule.

Pro-Football has deliberately taken the slower route in the dispute. The case could have taken directly to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals but has instead been stuck at the district court, where the fighting has been bitter.

At the same time, the team has said the delay in resolution hurts the Redskins. Yesterday, Raskopf noted that former owner Jack Kent Cooke could not be deposed because he was dead, prompting Lindsay to call the argument "the height of chutzpah" because the team would not let him testify when he was alive.

Raskopf in turn objected when Lindsay characterized George Preston Marshall, who owned the Redskins during the 1960s, as NFL's "biggest bigot." Although Native Americans had played for the team, it was the last in the league to integrate, a decision forced by former Interior secretary Stewart Udall, who would not allow a new stadium on federal land unless Marshall complied.

The case is Pro Football Inc. v. Harjo, No. 99-1385.

Recent Decision:
Pro Football Inc. v. Harjo (March 4, 2003)

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

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

Related Stories:
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 © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Elizabeth Cook-Lynn: Telling the indigenous story with public art (10/1)
Crystal Willcuts: A tribute to my mother who was lost to cancer (10/1)
FCC will consider petition to outlaw R-word on public airwaves (10/1)
Report places economic impact of US gaming industry at $240B (10/1)
Native Sun News: Agency weighs uranium mine near sacred site (9/30)
Jim Abourezk: South Dakota tribes can put Rick Weiland in office (9/30)
Cherokee chief participated in live pigeon shoot for Sen. Inhofe (9/30)
Navajo vice president returns home after near fatal spider bite (9/30)
North Dakota tribe sees big problems as energy industry grows (9/30)
Andre Cramblit: Another year brings challenges for our people (9/30)
Jack Duran: State's 'shocking' attack on Big Lagoon Rancheria (9/30)
Navajo Nation Council to select a new leader after resignation (9/30)
Editorial: Long delayed trust fund settlement for Navajo Nation (9/30)
Keepseagle plaintiffs oppose use of $380M to create foundation (9/30)
Opinion: Working with New Mexico tribes to protect sacred sites (9/30)
Pueblo man chosen as chair of VA minority advisory committee (9/30)
Woman sues over fall at Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe business (9/30)
Seminole Tribe makes another attempt to join banking business (9/30)
Mohegan Tribe purchases more wood pellet production facilities (9/30)
Ponca Tribe takes down old headquarters and readies new home (9/30)
Native Mob gang leader sentenced to 43 years in federal prison (9/30)
Three indicted for murder of man from Northern Arapaho Tribe (9/30)
Rivals funded DC trips to oppose Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/30)
American Gaming Association includes tribes in economic report (9/30)
Editorial: Vote yes to support North Fork Rancheria gaming deal (9/30)
Editorial: Florida shouldn't take a gamble with casino expansion (9/30)
Tim Giago: All Indian people ask is for America to honor treaties (9/29)
Native Sun News: Tribes take on IRS and win battle over taxation (9/29)
Mark Trahant: Indian vote could bring a surprise in South Dakota (9/29)
Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act signed into law by Obama (9/29)
Obama signs law for settlement with Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe (9/29)
Chelsey Luger and Gyasi Ross: Transforming the spirit of suicide (9/29)
Migizi Pensoneau: Behind the scenes at a Washington NFL game (9/29)
Donna Ennis: Ancestor starting asking about trust fund in 1900s (9/29)
Steven Newcomb: Indigenous conference yields power to states (9/29)
Kyle Mays: Rejecting narrowminded views of indigenous studies (9/29)
Brian Pierson: Tribal preference ruling strengthens sovereignty (9/29)
Thousands missing out on share of Cobell settlement payments (9/29)
Navajo presidential candidate in doubt over fluency in language (9/29)
Oneida Nation repeats history with women in top leadership jobs (9/29)
Al Jazeera: Tribes working together to restore bison to their land (9/29)
Indian Time: Oklahoma Indian museum expected to be big draw (9/29)
Column: Washington team should be worried about FCC petition (9/29)
Opinion: NMAI exhibit finally puts federal-tribal dealings to light (9/29)
Gun Lake Tribe hails new law that protects casino from litigation (9/29)
Former mayor remains hopeful on Los Coyotes Band casino bid (9/29)
Chumash Tribe awards $112M contract as part of casino project (9/29)
Documents show Seminole Tribe was close to new gaming deal (9/29)
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.