U.S. Supreme Court declines 'Redskins' suit





WASHINGTON -- The Washington Redskins ended their four-game losing streak Sunday. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court handed the professional football team another victory, declining to hear a petition alleging its use of the "Redskins" mascot is racially disparaging.

Suzan Harjo v. Pro-Football Inc., a case that began in 1992, centered on whether a dispute over a potentially offensive trademark can be dismissed if the challenge was not filed promptly. Though the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled in 1999 that the name was disparaging and should be changed, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. later decided that the challengers had waited too long to file their petition. The Redskins first registered the mascot with the Patent and Trademark Office in 1967.

The Redskins acquired their controversial name in 1933, before they arrived in Washington.

Originally the "Boston Braves," then-owner George Preston Marshall renamed the Boston Redskins in honor of their head coach, William "Lone Star" Dietz, himself a Native American, according to team lawyers in a brief for the high court.

When the team moved to Washington in 1937, the name was tweaked to reflect its new hometown.

Groups of law and psychology professors have filed amicus briefs in the case, urging the court to prohibit dismissing trademark disputes based on timeliness questions if the name does public damage.

In this case, use of the "Redskins" epithet propagates a negative stereotype of Native Americans, the psychology professors argued.


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