Victory against ‘Redskins’ name was engineered in MN

American Indians and their supporters gather outside the Metrodome to protest the Washington Redskins name, prior to a game between the team and the Minnesota Vikings in 2013. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Changing a racist name can take a long time, but it might be about to pay off for opponents of the Washington Redskins name.

The U.S. Patent Office today canceled the trademark on the Redskins name. That only took about 20 years.

Opponents figured out long ago that if the profit from the sale of Redskins merchandise could be bled away from the Redskins, then monetary considerations — if not morality — could force them to change the name.

For that strategy, credit goes to Minneapolis lawyer Stephen Baird, who — while still in college — wrote a paper contending that the Redskins trademark is illegal because you can’t trademark something that disparages people.

Then he took a job with a Minneapolis law firm at the same time the World Series with the Braves and the Super Bowl with the Redskins were played in Minneapolis. So he sued and won, at least until an appeals court ruled he’d waited too long to file the case and the Supreme Court declined to hear it.

“There was really no precedent,” Baird told the New York Times last fall. “So I asked, Why hasn’t anyone challenged them on that basis?”

(h/t: Jason DeRusha)