U.S. judge finds "Redskins" not offensive

Updated: October 1, 2003, 6:59 PM ET

ASHBURN, Virginia - The Washington Redskins can keep their name and logo as a judge on Wednesday reversed an earlier finding that the trademarks disparaged Native Americans.

U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled that the findings of the U.S. Trial Trademark and Appeals Board, which held that the trademarks may be disparaging, "is unsupported by substantial evidence, is logically flawed and fails to apply the correct legal standard to its own finding of facts," according to a statement released by the team.

In an 84-page opinion, Judge Kollar-Kotelly also noted that the 25-year delay in pursuing the challenge to the Redskins name was unreasonable and precluded consideration of the case.

She concurred with the argument brought by the team, which has had the nickname since 1933. The franchise was formed as the Boston Braves in 1932, changed nicknames the following year and moved to Washington in 1937.

"We are pleased with the judge's finding," Redskins owner Daniel Snyder said in a statement. "This team has always treated its name and trademarks with the utmost respect, and our fans worldwide understand and acknowledge the tradition of the Washington Redskins."

A history section of the team's media guide excerpts a portion of the book, "America's Fascinating Indian Heritage," which reads, "The term redskin, applied by Europeans to Algonquians in general and the Delawares in particular, was inspired not by their natural complexion but by their fondness for vermilion makeup, concocted from fat mixed with berry juice and minerals that provided the desired color." The judge focused on arguments of linguistics and a survey brought by the complainants that attempted to show the trademarks held Native Americans in disrepute.

She found "the survey did not test the participants' view of the term 'redskins' in the context of (the team's) services." Also, she found the survey flawed "by focusing on the general public and inferring that the Native Americans would simply agree with those views."

Kollar-Kotelly also said testimony of the seven Native Americans who brought the suit was not supported by independent evidence, finding their words "clearly do not constitute a 'substantial composite' of Native Americans.'

The team has argued that there is a difference is the use of the word "redskins" when it is used as the team's nickname, and the judge agreed.

Kollar-Kotelly also pointed to the ruling by the TTAB, which said, "what the (board) found .. was that during the relevant time periods, the use of the term 'redskins' in connection with (the team's) marks was used in a respectful manner."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index