The Washington Redskins once wore a circled R on their helmets.
Now they could become the first NFL team without a circled R — as in registered trademark — on their logo.
The push to persuade the Redskins to change their nickname entered a new phase Wednesday, as the federal government officially stepped into the fight.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the trademark registration of the Redskins, calling the nickname "disparaging to Native Americans." Federal trademark law prohibits names or logos that "may disparage persons or bring them into contempt or disrepute."
The case, which was brought before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, was filed on behalf of five Native Americans and marks the latest chapter in a decades-long attempt to persuade the NFL franchise to change its name. The 2-1 decision comes amid mounting political and financial pressure to make a change.
However, the ruling does not require the Redskins to change their name, but only limits their legal options when other people or entities engage in unauthorized use of the Redskins name or marks.
Even without federal registrations, the Redskins still have common-law trademark protection but are not afforded all the protections of federal law that include the potential to recover actual damages, punitive damages, attorney fees and injunctions. The remedies are not as clear under common law.
Jesse Witten, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, applauded the decision but said it probably will take more to persuade Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to make a change.
"We don’t think trademark litigation will be what persuades this team to change its name," Witten said. "It will be the view of broader society that the name needs to change. … But this is an important decision by the U.S. government, that it should play no part in promoting this team’s ethnic slur."
This is not the first time the Redskins have encountered this setback. Native Americans prevailed in a similar ruling in 1999, only to see that decision thrown out when the team and the NFL won an appeal in U.S. District Court in 2009. The court ruled that the plaintiffs didn’t have standing to file the lawsuit because they waited too long to complain. A federal court of appeals upheld that decision.
"We’ve seen this story before," Bob Raskopf, trademark attorney for the Redskins, said in a written statement Wednesday. "And just like the last time, today’s ruling will have no effect at all on the team’s ownership of and right to use the Redskins name and logo."
Bortles signs 4-year deal with Jaguars
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. >> Rookie quarterback Blake Bortles has many things to work on before training camp.
His contract is no longer on the list.
Bortles, the first quarterback taken in last month’s NFL Draft, signed a four-year deal worth more than $20.6 million Wednesday.
The third overall selection, Bortles signed the fully guaranteed contract before the second day of a mandatory, three-day minicamp.
Bortles received a $13.3 million signing bonus. The Jaguars got a team option for a fifth year.
"I never thought about, ‘I need to sign. I can’t wait to sign. I need to hurry up to sign,’ " Bortles said. "It is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, signing your first NFL contract. So that was something that’s cool and I’ll cherish forever. But it’s definitely in the past and forgotten about in my mind."
Jets release troubled running back Goodson
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. >> Mike Goodson’s strange stint with the New York Jets is over.
The troubled running back was released Wednesday after he failed to show up for the team’s mandatory minicamp. General manager John Idzik announced that Goodson, coming off major knee surgery and dealing with legal issues, was let go with a designation of "left squad."
"Obviously, it’s disappointing," Idzik said. "Like we do with all of our players, we gave Mike, we feel in good conscience, every opportunity here with the Jets. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out and we made the move, ultimately, that we felt was best for the team."
Goodson played in just two games before tearing two knee ligaments in October.