The Chicago Blackhawks declined to comment about the Washington Redskins’ loss of trademark protection Wednesday, but an expert said there’s little reason to believe the hockey team’s name and Indian head logo could face similar jeopardy. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office found in a 2-to-1 decision that trademarks covering the Redskins’ name and associated symbols disparaged American Indians, and thus must be canceled under federal law. The team vowed to appeal, noting it had won a similar legal case a decade ago. The trademark decision turned on a lengthy record of objections to the name by the National Congress of American Indians, which as early as the 1960s took issue with the team’s use of the word Redskins. The two judges who opted to cancel the trademark said the actions by the congress were evidence that “a substantial composite” of American Indians found the names and logos to be disparaging. There appears to be no similar record of opposition to the Blackhawks’ name and logo, though the congress last year passed a resolution condemning all “race-based stereotypes” used by sports teams. A congress representative could not be reached for this story. Christine Farley, an intellectual property specialist at American University Washington College of Law, said the question of disparaging trademarks has focused on whether particular groups take offense — in the case of the Redskins, American Indians as a whole.
Blackhawks name hasn't been as controversial as Redskins
Chicago Tribune | Jun 20