ADL Welcomes Patent Office Decision Deeming Redskins Name ‘Disparaging’ to Native Americans

Washington, DC, June 18, 2014…The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today welcomed the decision of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that the team name of the Washington Redskins is “disparaging to Native Americans” and cannot be trademarked under federal law that prohibits the protection of offensive or disparaging language.

David Friedman, ADL Washington D.C. Regional Director, issued the following statement:

The decision by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office represents a significant step forward in fighting prejudice, discrimination and hurtful stereotypes, particularly in the professional sports arena.

The Washington Redskins name is deeply offensive to Native Americans, reinforces racial stereotypes, and promotes bigotry.  It is time for sports enterprises, including the Washington Redskins, to move away from the use of demeaning, derogatory and offensive team names, mascots and logos. 

Professional sports in the U.S. are an inspiring story of diversity, respect, and inclusion.  Moving away from names that evoke negative stereotypes is central to the values of inclusion, pluralism and equality.  The ruling of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office sends an important message that we hope will prompt a decision by the team’s ownership to change the name of the Washington Redskins.

In October 2013, ADL issued a statement on sports team names and stereotypes, saying that the time had come for “responsible sports enterprises to seriously consider moving away from the use of hurtful and offensive names, mascots and logos.” In May, the League signed on to a letter calling on more than 2,700 professional NFL players to speak out in favor of changing the Redskins name.

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all. Today it is the world’s leading organization combating anti-Semitism, exposing hate groups, training law enforcement on hate crimes, developing anti-bias education programs for students, countering cyber-hate and relentlessly pursuing equal rights for all.