Redskins appeal trademark ruling

ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins, as expected, filed an appeal Thursday of the U.S. Patent Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruling that ordered the cancellation of the Redskins' trademark registration.

The Patent board voted 2-1 in June to cancel the trademark held by the Redskins. The appeal, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, will be heard by a federal judge.

"We believe that the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ignored both federal case law and the weight of the evidence, and we look forward to having a federal court review this obviously flawed decision," said Bob Raskopf, the Redskins' trademark attorney, in a statement.

The Redskins registered their nickname in 1967. In 1999, a panel voted to cancel the trademark, but that decision was overturned in 2003. A court ruled that the plaintiffs in the case should have filed a complaint shortly after the original trademark registration.

The Redskins' complaint says that if the latest ruling isn't overturned, it threatens the team's First Amendment rights as well as it being "unfairly deprived of its valuable and long-held intellectual property rights in violation of the Fifth Amendment."

Raskopf said in the statement, "The team is optimistic that the court will correctly and carefully evaluate the proofs, listen to the arguments, and confirm the validity of the Washington Redskins' federal trademark registrations, just as another federal court has already found in a virtually identical case."

The Redskins are still able to maintain their trademark during the appeal process.

The nickname has come under heavy criticism over the past 18 months, with numerous politicians coming out against the name. There were protests when the Redskins played on the road last season, with heavier showings in Denver and Minnesota.

But owner Dan Snyder has been adamant that he won't change the name. The NFL thus far has not applied pressure on him to do so.

A group of five Native Americans representing four tribes filed the latest suit in 2006, citing a law prohibiting registered names that are disparaging. After the June ruling, Oneida Indian Nation representative Ray Halbritter and National Congress of American Indians executive director Jackie Pata released a joint statement that read:

"The U.S. Patent Office has now restated the obvious truth that Native Americans, civil rights leaders, athletes, religious groups, state legislative bodies, members of Congress and the president have all echoed: taxpayer resources cannot be used to help private companies profit off the promotion of dictionary defined racial slurs."