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Today’s ruling does not mean you can open your own Redskins merchandise shop

Based on the reaction to the news that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has canceled the Washington Redskins federal trademark registrations, I expect to encounter a sea of pop-up stands selling Redskins merchandise on my commute home. Who wouldn’t want to make a quick buck now that hawking T-shirts, hats and banners with the controversial team name is “legal”? Let’s get rich, y’all.

Even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) seems to think that anyone can sell merchandise without potential legal consequences, but that’s not quite right. The Redskins, who may appeal the decision, retain their federal trademark registrations until all appeals have been exhausted. That process could take years, as it did after the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board canceled the team’s trademark registrations in 1999.

The registrations will be canceled only if the team exhausts all of its appeals and loses on appeal. At that point, the team could continue to use Redskins name and still take legal action against anyone selling Redskins merchandise by exercising its common law rights to the name and logo. In other words, you should think twice about launching that Redskins merchandise business.

Here’s a good explanation from the trademark board:

(Thanks to Lindsay — my fiancee and go-to expert on all things trademark law.) 

More on the Redskins trademarks:

U.S. Patent Office revokes the Redskins’ trademarks, says name is disparaging

Here are the movie clips used in Redskins trademarks case

What does revoking the trademarks mean for the Redskins?

Lawmakers react to the trademarks ruling

Scott Allen writes about all things D.C. sports. Follow him on Twitter @ScottSAllen or e-mail him if you’ve got a tip to share.



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Dan Steinberg · June 18, 2014

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