Jun 182014

[Cross posted from the WCL Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Law Clinic, Link] Today, for the second time in two decades, the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has cancelled federal registration of the Washington NFL team’s name and related marks. As the Washington Post reports, the PTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board found that the word “Redskin” is “disparaging to native Americans” and therefore is barred from federal registration.

Student teams from the Glushko-Samuelson IP Clinic have been involved in the case and related matters in a variety of ways in recent years. Suzan Shown Harjo, the celebrated civil rights and native rights leader who brought the first lawsuit against the Washington team over its name, has sought the clinic’s help in a variety of projects related to mascotting and intellectual property policy.

The case and the issues it raises have also been a model for a simulated exercise that clinic students use to explore core concepts like client-centered lawyering, cross-cultural lawyering, fact development, narrative case theory, and IP and the public interest.

Clinic students can look forward to a continuing role in this important national conversation as the case continues to wind its way through the courts.