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Expert: Redskins Trademark Issue is Mostly Moral Victory

Brian Kelly (@brpkelly)
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Photo: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Photo: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

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Brian Kelly is a Florissant native who returned to KMOX in 2009 after...
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – It may send a message, but the stripping of the Washington Redskins’ federal trademark is more of a moral victory for opponents of the nickname than anything else.

That’s according to a local trademark-law expert, St. Louis University Associate Law Professor Yvette Liebesman, who says the ruling doesn’t completely eliminate the team’s trademark protection.

“They may still be able to stop people from sellingand that’s the key word, the selling of Redskins stuffbased on a different section of the law for unregistered marks,” she says. “And even if they have no federal rights, every state has its own trademark laws.”

Liebesman tells KMOX’s Charles Brennan that means the team can sue in each state to stop the sale of its merchandise.

But she says everything’s on hold, pending an appeal of the Patent Office ruling.

The last time the Washington Redskins lost their trademark protection, the decision was overruled, but Liebesman says that’s not as likely to happen this time.

Liebesman says after the 1999 decision the court ruled the plaintiffs were too old and waited too long to file suit. She’s says that’s not the case now.

“All these folks that signed on board this time around were under age 24, so therefore they meet this requirement of being young enough to now assert their rights,” she says.

Liebesman says the Redskins will maintain their trademark protection until their appeals are exhausted.

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