One NFL owner addressed the decision by the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office to cancel six of the Washington Redskins’ trademarks and his remarks showed the reluctance of owners to meddle in each other’s business decisions.
Jerry Jones, owner and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys, told USA Today’s Jarrett Bell that, if the decision is upheld on appeal, losing the trademarks would be a “deterrent” for the franchise to continue using the nickname Redskins, which was determined to be “disparaging to Native Americans.”
“That [securing trademarks] would be one of the things that you’d consider if you’re going to do everything that you could to promote the franchise, to promote that name,” Jones said. “If you didn’t have exclusive use of that name, then that would be a deterrent to using it.”
Loss of the trademarks would make it difficult to protect the licensing fees and profits from sales of apparel and merchandise that 31 teams divvy up. (Jones’s Cowboys make their own separate deals.) Jones chose to speak strictly about the business side of the game, preferring his own version of the Texas two-step on whether his team’s NFC East rival should consider changing the name.
“As far as the big debate that’s going on, I don’t have any statement on that,” Jones said. “But as far as having team marks that aren’t protected, that’s a disadvantage. That would be one of the things that you’d consider if you’re going to do everything that you could to promote the franchise, to promote that name. If you didn’t have exclusive use of that name, then that would be a deterrent to using it.”
Nor was Jones speaking about what the owners may be thinking about this development. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has said he will “never” change the team’s name.
“All owners share the economic benefit of our marks,” Jones said. “To the extent that all owners are not protected as much as we were, it implies that there would be a financial consequence. Certainly, they are impacted. To the degree that it would cause another owner to get into the business of the Redskins, I doubt it. I don’t see it being of that consequence economically. I don’t see it as having enough economic consequences to create any inertia.
“But that’s not to address anything about anybody’s opinion, one way or another.”
Last fall, when asked about the Redskins’ name in an interview on KRLD 105.3, Jones was a little more specific.
“Well, I don’t think anyone has ever named their team to be uncomplimentary to the entity or person or group or namesake,” he said on the “New School With Shan & RJ” show. “All team names have always been a positive attempt at the namesake. And so the intent is very positive here. I’m very sensitive, and we should always listen to those that feel that you’re being insensitive. That’s real, and that’s valid, and ought to be always looked at.
“But also we’re dealing with that not everybody looks at it the same way,” Jones continued. “And so I think that’s there, and no, I don’t want to weigh in on it, other than the fact that I know that it was intended initially and is today to be complimentary.”