Washington Redskins Appeal Trademark Ruling in EDVA, Not Federal Circuit

August 15th, 2014

After the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled against the Washington Redskins, I noted that the team had the option of appealing to the Federal Circuit, or file the case anew in federal district court for de novo consideration. The Federal Circuit had some horribly wrong First Amendment jurisprudence, that brushed aside whether the government can deny a mark because it is “disparaging.”

WaPo reports that the team has challenged the ruling in federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria.

“We believe that the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ignored both federal case law and the weight of the evidence, and we look forward to having a federal court review this obviously flawed decision,” said Bob Raskopf, trademark attorney for the Washington Redskins, in a statement.

More importantly, this suit will not be bound by the D.C. Circuit’s precedents.

The team can now introduce fresh evidence into a battle that has been confined to the patent office and limited to mostly decades-old testimony. The federal district case also gives the team an extra chance to appeal in case it loses. If the Redskins had filed their case at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, their appeal would have been restricted to old depositions and documents that have already been widely dissected.

As far as a forum goes, the team is identified with Washington, plays in Maryland, practices in Virginia, and is incorporated in Virginia, so I suppose that was the better venue. Hopefully the 4th Circuit will engage in meaningful First Amendment analysis, which was utterly lacking by the TTAB.