(CN) – The Supreme Court turned down an appeal brought by a group of American Indians who claimed the Washington Redskins’ name perpetuated racial stereotypes.
The high court let stand the D.C. Circuit’s dismissal of the case on the grounds that the plaintiffs waited too long to sue after Pro Football Inc. first registered the mark in 1967.
The plaintiffs, seven American Indians, sued Pro Football in 1992, 25 years after the name was first trademarked.
A trademark appeals board canceled the mark despite the delay, citing an interest in preventing “a substantial segment of the population” from being exposed “to public ridicule.” The plaintiffs said the trademarks disparaged them as a people.
Pro Football fought back, claiming the Indians were negligent in waiting so long to sue — a legal concept known as the doctrine of laches.
The district court sided with Pro Football and the D.C. Circuit affirmed, noting that the youngest plaintiff, Mateo Romero, was only a year old when the first Redskins mark was registered.
The lawsuit was filed seven years and nine months after Romero’s eighteenth birthday.
“Eight years is a long time — a delay made only more unreasonable by Romero’s acknowledged exposure to the various Redskins trademarks well before reaching the age of maturity,” Judge Tatel wrote for the three-judge panel.
Without commenting on the case, the high court left the lower court’s dismissal in tact.