Newspaper article Roll Call

Congress Extends NFL Season, at Least in Washington

Newspaper article Roll Call

Congress Extends NFL Season, at Least in Washington

Article excerpt

Congress has once again jumped into the National Football League controversy over the Washington Redskins' team name, with one member introducing a bill to formally declare the name a derogatory term that cannot be trademarked, and other members questioning why the league should continue as a non-profit, tax-exempt institution.

Rep. Michael M. Honda, D-Calif., introduced The Non- Disparagement of Native American Persons or Peoples in Trademark Registration Act on Feb. 3. And according to Honda's office, the bill already has 26 co-sponsors, all Democrats. In addition to declaring the term, "redskins" derogatory, the bill would cancel any existing federal trademarks using the term and bar any future trademarks.

"It is unbelievable to me that, in the 21st century, a prominent NFL franchise is calling itself by a racial slur," Honda said in a statement. "Team names should not be offensive to anyone. Allowing trademark protection of this word is akin to the government approving its use. Removing that trademark will send a clear message that this name is not acceptable."

In a release announcing the bill, Honda acknowledged the ongoing lawsuit over the Redskins trademark. Five Native Americans filed a lawsuit against Pro-Football, Inc., in 2006 to cancel the team name trademark, citing the Lanham Act, which permits cancellation of a trademark that is deemed disparaging. The Justice Department intervened in the lawsuit in January to defend the constitutionality of the Lanham Act.

As the lawsuit continues, Congress will also consider the issue with Honda's bill. The bill was also introduced in the 113th Congress by American Samoa Del. Eni F. H. Faleomavaega, a Democrat. Faleomavaega lost his re-election bid to Republican Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen in November. In the 113th Congress, the bill garnered 24 co-sponsors, including one Republican, Rep. Tom Cole, R- Okla. …

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