Legislators are going after the Washington Redskins' name through the use of trademark law. The “Non-Disparagement of Native American Persons or Peoples in Trademark Registration Act of 2013” would amend the Trademark Act of 1946 by refusing registration to any name using “Redskin” or a derivation thereof.
Presumably, the Atlanta Braves, Chicago Blackhawks, Cleveland Indians would be caught up in this controversy, though depending upon level of offense or closeness of derivation.
In addition, there are over 60 high schools in the country with Redskins as part of their mascot names. Though none of these high schools have tried to trademark their mascot name, the pressure on these high schools to change their name intensifies.
Though team representatives point to surveys stating 9 out of 10 Native Americans do not find the logo insensitive or offensive, the real problem for Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder comes down to the value of the intangibles tied to the Redskins logo. We haven’t seen a valuation, but licensing deals are significant and the recognition factor is currently very high, as the Washington Redskins have been around for 80 years. How would a change impact that value? Would the new federal legislation be enough to force that change? Would current licensing deals become null and void or irrelevant without the backing of trademark protection?