The Unites States Patent and Trademark office has canceled the Trademark on the Washington Redskins name, leading to the speculation that Dan Snyder will be forced to change the name of the team. The easiest way to understand this situation is in the form of a story. Some of you may be familiar with the band Cracker. They were big in the 90's with hits like “Low” and “Eurotrash Girl”. Now imagine if the band Cracker trademarked the name cracker, what would happen? It means Jeff Foxworthy couldn't make jokes about crackers without having to pay the band Cracker royalties. Now imagine a small group of people from deep in Mississippi and Arkansas having a problem with the use of the term cracker because they deem it offensive? Now you have yourself a complicated court case pending.
The NFL and owner Dan Snyder still have rights to the use of the name Washington Redskins. They just can't pursue litigious action against anyone who they think infringes on the use of the word redskins for monetary gain. For example, if the residents of the State of Washington go on a fad diet and instead of calling it Washington Paleo diet they call it the Washington Redskin diet, the NFL would not be able to prevent them from using the word Redskin. Redskin is a generic term after all. It describes a group of people just like brownskin, blackskin and whiteskin.
The real issue here is the M-word (Money). Did you know that Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III set a record for the greatest number of jerseys sold between April 2012 and March 2013 at the NFL shop? While the NFL shop doesn't disclose actual sales numbers, you can imagine that the greatest number of jerseys sold would generate a tidy sum for the Redskins. The team can still use the name, it just can't financially pursue anyone using the word for financial gain. The Washington Redskins have appealed and will continue to use the team name. It may be years before we see another verdict on this matter. In 2003, a similar decision was overturned by a Federal district court on a verdict made in 1999. In the meantime, if this verdict holds, you can be sure that Dan Snyder and the NFL will gauge just how much of a financial impact the name Redskins will have on their ability to market the team successfully. If the Redskins start to see a dip in their marketing revenues, they will take effective action.
It is of interest to note that 49 members of the senate are backing this decision and encourage the team to change the name because of its seemingly disparaging nature. If the senate is forced to act, they may do so by invoking their powers to grant, or in this case revoke, tax-exempt status. Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss is quoted as saying “It's sad, but like I said before, it's something that I can't control, so I'm going to leave it alone”. Yes, we all will leave it alone because it's out of our control as well. However, some of us have the distinct privilege of reporting on these matters and we will continue to monitor the situation closely. So the NFL name change is pending.