The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled 2-1 on Wednesday that the name of the Washington Redskins football team is “disparaging of Native Americans” and that it must be canceled.
The case, called Blackhorse v. Pro Football Inc., was filed eight years ago on behalf of five Native Americans, Amanda Blackhorse, Phillip Glover, Marcus Briggs-Cloud, Jillian Pappan and Courtney Tsotigh.
The team can continue to use the Redskins name pending any appeals. But the decision limits the team’s legal options if others use the logo on merchandise, meaning it would be more difficult to go after people who use the logo without permission.
Redskins owner Dan Snyder has said he won’t change the team’s name because of its tradition, but there has been a growing outcry from civil rights groups and lawmakers, including President Obama.
Update: Bob Raskopf, the Redskins’ trademark lawyer, said in a statement that he would appeal the ruling.