The Fighting Irish Can Relax for Now
A US District Court judge determines that the Washington Redskins did not violate a federal trademark law that prohibits the registration of "disparaging" names.
U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly issued the ruling in connection with a 1999 decision by a panel of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. But she also made clear that her ruling does not address the issue of whether the name "Redskins" actually is offensive to Indians.
Without having read it, this ruling seems to make a reasonable distinction between that which is disparaging and that which is offensive. It seems fairly obvious that teams like the Redskins didn't choose their names in order to denigrate Native Americans. I mean, why would anyone want to give themself a nickname with a negative connotation? It would be like someone asking people to call him or her "idiot" or "moron."