A 2014 protest against the Washington NFL team's racist mascot. Photo: Fibonacci Blue
Law | National | Sports

New York Times editorial board reconsiders stance on racist trademarks

In June 2014, the editorial board of The New York Times stood with Native activists in their challenge to the racist trademarks of the Washington NFL team.

"Slurs Don’t Deserve Trademark Protection," the headline on the editorial read.

Fast forward three years later and the nation's highest court has struck down the law at issue in Blackhorse v. Pro Football Inc.. So while the editorial board still opposes NFL team's "offensive" mascot, according to a new statement, the decision in Matal v. Tam has forced a reconsideration on the trademark issue.

"The decision is likely to help the Washington Redskins, who lost their trademark protections in 2014 after years of complaints from Native American groups," the June 19 editorial reads. "At the time, this page supported the Trademark Office’s decision, and we still regard the Redskins name as offensive. Based on this case, however, we’ve since reconsidered our underlying position."

The six trademarks at issue were deemed "disparaging" to Native peoples by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. A federal judge agreed with that assessment but the team is appealing.

A final decision hasn't been reached but Tam, as the Times' editorial board pointed out, is a game changer. Native activists say they won't give up the fight against the team's mascot regardless of the outcome of the case.

Read More on the Story:
New York Times Editorial Board reconsiders its position on Redskins trademark (The Washington Post 6/22)

From The New York Times Editorial Board:
Editorial: Free Speech at the Supreme Court (June 19, 2017)
Slurs Don’t Deserve Trademark Protection (June 18, 2014)

U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Matal v. Tam:
Syllabus | Opinion [Alito] | Concurrence [Kennedy] | Concurrence [Thomas]

Related Stories:
Cronkite News: Navajo activist vows fight against racist NFL mascot (June 20, 2017)
Supreme Court ruling poses hurdle for opponents of racist NFL mascot (June 19, 2017)