TRADEMARK PROTECTION

Native American Activists Want Supreme Court to Hear Redskins Case

Washington Redskins punter Hunter Smith (3) reacts after scoring a touchdown on a fake field goal against New York Giants in the second quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009, at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The Giants won 23-17. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Washington Redskins punter Hunter Smith (3) reacts after scoring a touchdown on a fake field goal against New York Giants in the second quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009, at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The Giants won 23-17. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) (Bill Kostroun - AP)

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By Robert Barnes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Native American activists are trying to get the Supreme Court involved in its long-running dispute with the Washington Redskins about whether the team's name is so offensive that it does not deserve trademark protection.

The group is asking the court to review a decision this year by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that the group waited too long to bring its claim.

The dispute started in 1992, when seven activists challenged the Redskins trademark. They won seven years later in a decision by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. The team appealed to the federal court.

Judges at the district and circuit levels said the activists' trademark cancellation claim was barred by the doctrine of laches, which serves as a statute of limitation against claims that should have been made long ago. Attorney Philip J. Mause's petition says such claims can be brought at any time and cites a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, which was written by then-judge, now-Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.

The Supreme Court takes only a fraction of the petitions it receives, and probably will not decide on this one for months.


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