U.S. Patent Office: “Redskins” Is Derogatory

Ruling bodes ill for Washington Redskins' legal battle over their name

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Alex Brandon / AP

FILE - In this Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012 file photo, Zena "Chief Z" Williams, unofficial mascot of the Washington Redskins, signs autographs during fan appreciation day at the Redskins' NFL football training camp at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Va., Aug. 4, 2012.

The U.S. Patent Office has denied a patent to “Redskins Hog Rinds” on the grounds that the name is a “derogatory slang,” which bodes poorly for the Washington Redskins’ ongoing legal battle over their name.

In a letter dated Dec. 19, the agency wrote that the name includes content “which may disparage or bring into contempt or disrepute persons, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols,” CBS News reports. 

This is bad news for the Washington Redskins, since the same agency will be deciding whether to revoke the trademark on the NFL team’s controversial name. Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter says he hopes the decision will send a message to team owner Dan Snyder and the NFL that the name “Redskins” is a racial slur.

“This is a huge potential precedent-setter rooted in the painfully self-evident truth that the Change the Mascot campaign has been reiterating: The R-word is a dictionary defined slur designed to demean and dehumanize an entire group of people,” Halbritter said. “The federal government was right to declare that taxpayers cannot and should not subsidize the promotion of that slur through lucrative patent protections.”