ACLU of Virginia Opposes Government Cancellation of NFL Team’s Trademark

Washington Redskins

ACLU Asks Appeals Court to Find Trademark Law Unconstitutional Violation of Free Speech

THE ACLU OF VIRGINIA, the ACLU of the National Capitol Area and the national ACLU today filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the cancellation of the Washington National Football League team’s trademarks on the grounds they are ‘disparaging.’

ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga said

Quoting  begins The ACLU agrees that the Washington team’s name and trademarks are disparaging to Native Americans, and we have made clear that we believe that the team should change its name and discontinue use of its current trademarks … At the same time, however, we believe that government is prohibited by the First Amendment from denying a trademark on that basis. Quoting  ends

The brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit along with the ACLU national organization and the Nation’s Capital affiliate, argues that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s cancellation last year of six trademarks for the team name was unconstitutional. The brief argues that the trademark office’s decision to cancel the Washington team’s trademarks

  • violated the team’s free speech rights because it
  • discriminates against a particular point of view,
  • places a condition on the valuable benefits of trademark registration, and
  • is arbitrary and will lead to arbitrary enforcement.

The ACLU of Virginia filed a similar brief in the team’s original case in U.S. District Court in March. That court ruled against the team in July.

GO Pro-Football-v.-Blackhorse-and-USA-Amicus-Brief.pdf
ACLU of Virginia ~

EDITORS NOTE : Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has the opinion that the team name is disparaging to Native Americans, it has never actually been proven. No actual testifyable proof has been presented beyond the recent hearsay of a small special interest group. Always remember that the court interprets the law and offers opinions on the law but cannot legislate new law. The laws of the land are established only by YOUR selected, duely elected public representitives.

ACLU of VirginiaThe ACLU of Virginia promotes civil liberties and civil rights for everyone in the Commonwealth through public education, litigation, and advocacy with the goal of securing freedom and equality for all. For more information on the ACLU of Virginia go to





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Virginia ACLU

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