NFL’s Washington Redskins Name Still Under Attack


The NFL’s Washington Redskins  trademarks and name are still under attack.  Native American community activism against the Washington Redskins has been building in recent years.  In June 2014, the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board cancelled trademark registration for the Washington Redskin marks, responding, in part, after it had received numerous objections by Native American groups. Grassroots efforts in recent months have included protests outside professional football games around the country and television ads airing during the NBA Finals.  The Native American groups are asking one of America’s most popular professional football teams to change its name from “Redskins” to something that does not offend them.


Now, a group of Native Americans has targeted broadcasters over objections to the team’s use of the word “Redskins”.  In late October, a George Washington University professor and three Native American litigants filed a complaint with the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) against WWXX-FM, a radio station owned by Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder.  The complainants asked the broadcast regulators to deny the broadcast license for WWXX, based on allegations that the use of the term “Redskins” constituted hate speech.  In the last few weeks, another group has also gone after KTTV Los Angeles, a Fox affiliate, filing a challenge to its FCC license renewal.  KTTV has the rights to broadcast Washington Redskins games in Southern California.  Predictably, the team has gone on the defensive, telling the Washington Post that, “the objections amount to nothing more than a frivolous attempt to goad the Commission into banning the team name of Washington, D.C.’s NFL franchise from the nation’s airwaves.”


While the Redskins say they will continue to fight the objections, modern-day name changes in professional sports are uncommon, but not unprecedented, especially in the nation’s capital.  In 1995, the NBA franchise in Washington changed its name from the Washington Bullets to the Washington Wizards, citing references to violence in the beleaguered capital city.


If you or your company has questions about defending your businesses trademarks, reputation, or name, want to challenge someone else’s trademarks,, or just wanted to discuss your legal options , you need an experienced Georgia business lawyer.  Attorney James J. (“Jim”) Thomas II has more than 35 years of courtroom experience in the Atlanta area, and has represented professional athletes, teams, and leagues, as well as many other individuals and businesses. Jim is a business litigation expert who can handle complex business litigation as well as analysis, evaluation, and resolution of existing and potential litigation including sports litigation.  Give Jim a call at 404-869-5248 or visit online.


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