If there are any experts about onomatology (the study of names) out there, they would all agree that Diddy and Native Americans understand names better than most of us. If you haven't seen the commercial that aired during the NBA Finals detailing each of the unique names Native Americans call each other by now, check it out.
The summarized version of the ad concludes that Redskins is not one of those names. And apparently, the United States Trademark Office agrees.
On Wednesday, the federal department responsible for trademarks banged its gavel and canceled six federal trademark registrations for the Redskins name. In their ruling in favor of plaintiff Amanda Blackhorse's lawsuit, the U.S. PTO determined that that the name is "disparaging to Native Americans" and because of federal law that bans the protection of offensive language, it is ineligible to remain trademarked.
Via Think Progress:
“The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board agreed with our clients that the team’s name and trademarks disparage Native Americans. The Board ruled that the Trademark Office should never have registered these trademarks in the first place,” Jesse Witten, the plaintiffs’ lead attorney, said in a press release. “We presented a wide variety of evidence – including dictionary definitions and other reference works, newspaper clippings, movie clips, scholarly articles, expert linguist testimony, and evidence of the historic opposition by Native American groups – to demonstrate that the word ‘redskin’ is an ethnic slur.”
“I am extremely happy that the [Board] ruled in our favor,” Blackhorse said in a statement. “It is a great victory for Native Americans and for all Americans. We filed our petition eight years ago and it has been a tough battle ever since. I hope this ruling brings us a step closer to that inevitable day when the name of the Washington football team will be changed. The team’s name is racist and derogatory. I’ve said it before and I will say it again – if people wouldn’t dare call a Native American a ‘redskin’ because they know it is offensive, how can an NFL football team have this name?”
The Redskins will certainly appeal, but the ruling for the appeal may be another impetus towards owner Dan Snyder hammering the final nail into the Redskins name debate.