Karol Kepchar Quoted in Washington Post on Trademark Dispute Process

A new case before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board involving the Washington Redskins football team is the focus of an article in The Washington Post in which Akin Gump trademark and copyright partner Karol Kepchar is quoted.

The article reports on a case brought by a group of Native Americans, who are asking the board to strike down several Redskins registered trademarks, including images of a Native American man used on the team’s helmets, because they are considered offensive. While the board can decide whether a trademark can be registered, it does not have the power to force the team to stop using an unregistered trademark, were the team to lose.

The petitioners say the trademarks should be struck down because they are “scandalous” or “disparaging”—an argument Kepchar says is unusual, as such requests are typically reserved for cases involving race, religion or curse words. Kepchar notes that it’s more common to see trademark cases use the “likelihood of confusion” argument; that is, whether the logo of one company looks too much like that of another. A decision in this case may not come until next year.