The U.S. Department of Justice today has given up the latest attempt to try to force the NFL team to drop the name.
In a letter to the U.S. Court of Appeals, the department said a U.S. Supreme Court decision in another case last week means the case should be sent back to a federal district court with instructions to find in favor of pro football.
That should end the attempt by Amanda Blackhorse, a member of the Navajo Nation to strip the team of its copyright for the logo and name. It’s a campaign she started 11 years ago and had succeeded until the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of a law that bans offensive trademarks.
The strategy, devised in the ’90s by a Minnesota lawyer in a different case, was a good one: Remove the trademark protections and the team will lose money on licensing and merchandising and be forced to change the name and logo.
But the Supreme Court ruled in a case involving the rock band, The Slants, who were denied trademark protection because their name was considered offensive to other Asians.
Slants co-founder Simon Tam said he wasn’t trying to be offensive when he selected the name; he was trying to turn an offensive word into a statement of pride.
That’s the same view that the Redskins insist they have with their nickname and logo.
But it’s still offensive, Blackhorse insists.
“In the lower courts, for all these years, it has been deemed offensive,” she said. “It’s just that now you can register anything that is offensive.”