Cantwell Applauds Court Decision to Uphold Patent Decision on Washington NFL Team Name

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) applauded the decision by U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee to uphold the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s decision to cancel the Washington NFL Football team’s trademark registrations.

“The Virginia Court ruling is a clear indication that the Washington Football team does not have the law on their side. The NFL does not need to condone disparaging terms to play football,” said Cantwell. “The NFL should stop allowing this name to be used immediately. It remains clear they are on the wrong side of history for continuing to defend the name - and the profits they make from this slur will be severely impacted by this decision."

Last June, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled that the D.C. NFL team name violates a provision of patent law banning “disparaging” registrations. Affirming that decision today, Judge Lee ruled the standard for proving “disparagement” was met and cancelation of the team’s trademark was not a violation of the First Amendment.

Today’s ruling in the case Pro-Football Inc. v. Amanda Blackhorse comes after more than two decades of court battles over the Washington NFL team name. The decision does not go immediately go into effect and could go to the United States Supreme Court for final determination.