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Could Trademark Law Change From Redskins Fight?

NPR's Kenya Downs mused in a recent post whether the fight over the propriety of the Washington Redskins' trademark could end up changing this body of law. After years and years of efforts by American Indian activists to have the trademark canceled on the grounds that it is racially offensive and disparaging, petitioners won the cancellation of the trademark and the U.S. Department of Justice also has decided to intervene in the lawsuit. The team's owner argues that the Lanham Act, which prohibits disparaging trademarks, is too vague and an unconstitutional impediment to free speech, but trademark attorneys told Downs that the First Amendment challenge to the Lanham Act will be a tough sell. However, lawyers said the case's outcome, whether the football team wins or not, will impact whether ethnic groups can challenge trademarks as offensive.