Redskins trademark challenged

September 11, 1992|By Knight-Ridder News Service

MINNEAPOLIS — 'TC MINNEAPOLIS -- American Indian activists announced a legal effort yesterday to have the trademark "Redskins" name of the NFL's Washington team canceled -- a new approach to ending what they consider offensive nicknames used by sports teams.

If successful, the action would reduce the value of the nickname, because anyone could use it. That might pave the way for the football team to choose another nickname, organizers said.

William Means, one of seven American Indians listed in the federal administrative law action filed yesterday, said the term "redskins" is "patently offensive."

Steven Wells, a lawyer with the Dorsey & Whitney firm handling the lawsuit, said the Oxford Dictionary traces the first use of the word to 1699.

That reference said, "ye wicked redskins," Wells said.

NFL officials consistently have defended the use of American Indian nicknames, saying they are part of teams' winning traditions.

Moreover, league officials say, some tribal leaders testified during a U.S. Senate hearing that they are not offended by the nicknames.

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