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US patent office cancels Washington Redskins trademark registration

[JURIST] The US Patent and Trademark Office [official website] on Wednesday announced [text, PDF] that it will cancel six trademark registrations belonging to National Football League team the Washington Redskins [official website]. Administrative trademark judge Karen Kuhlke found that the trademarks, which include the team's name, logo and the name of their cheerleading team, were "disparaging to Native Americans" and had to be cancelled under federal law, although the ruling was stayed until after appeal. A similar verdict [text] was reached against the Washington Redskins in 1999, but the cancellation of their trademarks was reversed on appeal. If upheld, this decision could possibly affect other US sports teams that use Native American names or logos.

The Washington Redskins' name was criticized [JURIST report] previously by UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya, who called in April for the team to change their name out of respect for the "historical and cultural legacy of the Native Americans in the US." Anaya visited the US in 2012 to launch the UN's first ever investigation into the rights situation of Native Americans [JURIST report]. Anaya's goal was to look into the rights of Native Americans, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians, and determine how the US's endorsement of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples [text, PDF] has affected the rights of these groups of people. The US endorsed [JURIST report] the Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2010, after being one of four member states originally opposed to the treaty when it was adopted by the UN [JURIST report] in 2007.

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