DOJ Intervenes in ‘Redskins' Trademark Case To Defend Constitutionality of Statute

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By Tamlin Bason

Jan. 9 — The Department of Justice announced Jan. 9 that it would intervene in a federal district court action in which the Washington Redskins football team is challenging a Trademark Trial and Appeal Board order that its registrations be cancelled “for the purpose of defending the constitutionality of Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act.” 

In June, the TTAB ruled that several trademark registrations held by the Washington Redskins “must be cancelled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered, in violation of Section 2(a)” of the Lanham Trademark Act of 1946, 15 U.S.C. §1052(a).

In August, the football club initiated a civil action in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in which it named the petitioners from the board action as defendants. The complaint also asserted facially and as-applied constitutional challenges to Section 2(a).

The DOJ said it was intervening only to defend the constitutionality of the statute, and that its intervention “will not interfere with the timely adjudication of this action.”

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