Washington Redskins have right to sue Native Americans, judge rules
ipnews.acaciapat.com – A trademark dispute between the Washington Redskins football team and a group of Native Americans will continue after a US court said the club has the right to sue the group.
In a decision handed down at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, the National Football League side was granted its request to try to dismiss a lawsuit filed against it by the Native Americans.
The decision, released on Tuesday (November 25), means the football team will be able to continue its fight to keep six trademarks, all featuring the word ‘Redskins’.
The team filed a lawsuit earlier this summer after the US Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board said it could not retain its trademarks because the term ‘Redskin’—a slang word for a Native American—was too offensive.
In its lawsuit filed in September, the team said it was suing those that brought the case in an attempt to directly to overturn the board’s decision.
But, in a motion to dismiss filed on September 22, the Native Americans, who include the Oneida Indian Nation, said they were not “parties of interest” who should answer to a lawsuit.
The Americans’ motion said the lawsuit must be thrown out because district courts require judges at that level to take cases only when an actual “case or controversy” exists between two parties.
The group—led by social worker Amanda Blackhorse—has no legal or economic interest in getting control of the trademarks for itself as a competing business might, the Americans argued.
But in yesterday’s ruling, Judge Gerald Lee dismissed the argument.
“Merely pointing out that [the Native Americans] have not used the registered marks and have no legal or economic interest in the marks does not absolve them of any interest in the case,” Lee wrote.
Jesse Witten, attorney for the Native Americans, told WIPR: “We are disappointed with the ruling on the motion to dismiss, but our clients and we remain confident in our case.”
Bob Raskopf, who is representing the Washington Redskins, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, has vowed never to change the team’s name and has said it honours Native Americans. ( Source : www.worldipreview.com )