High Court Punts Washington Redskins Trademark Case

The Washington Redskins have finally prevailed in a decade-long legal attack upon its nickname and logo.  In the case of Pro Football v. Harjo, the US Supreme Court chose not to review a lower court’s decision that the plaintiffs’ claims were barred by the doctrine of laches  – a common law remedy that operates similar to a statute of limitations.  In other words, the plaintiffs waited too long to challenge the trademark.

Gene Quinn of IP Watchdog has posted an excellent summary of this case, and its long history.  Attorney Quinn explains why the Supreme Court took a pass on hearing this appeal:

It is impossible to know why the Supreme Court did not decide to hear this case, that information is known only to the Justices on the Supreme Court. What is known, however, is that there were not 4 Justices who wanted to hear the case, which is why it was not accepted by the Supreme Court. I do still continue to believe that the right legal decision has been reached here in this case. There simply was no evidence to support the challenge and the [Trademark Trial and Appeals Board] should never have ruled as they did. While we can argue over whether the term “Redskin” is disparaging, and it almost certainly is disparaging, in order for the plaintiffs to prevail the law would have had to be ignored, and evidence from years after the fact would have needed to be relied upon in exchange for evidence in existence at the relevant time, namely the time or registration.

Click here to read Attorney Quinn’s article in its entirety.

This article is cross-posted at Connecticut Technology & Intellectual Property.

Thanks to Connecticut Sports Law readers Gregg and Dan for the links.


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