Local Redskins youth league not feeling pressure to change name

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- What could the controversy over the Washington Redskins name mean for other organizations, like Sarasota’s Ringling Redskins, a local youth football league.

ABC 7 spoke with a local trademark attorney and a board member of the Sarasota Redskins on Thursday to find out more.

The Ringling Redskins youth football league has been around in Sarasota since 1960 and consists of thirty different teams named after Native American tribes.  ”For instances we have the Apaches, the Arapahoe, we have the Black Feet, we have the Mohicans, we have the Mohawks, we have the Iroquois. We have 30 different Indian names.”

Frank Patella is the head maintenance man for the youth league and a board member. He says he has been keeping an eye on the Washington Redskins name controversy.  “I don't think the government should get involved with a name.”

The Sarasota Redskins is a nonprofit youth league run by volunteers that focuses playing football.  “We only had one complaint probably 20 years ago. We had a group of, I guess a council of Indian people came here, and wanted to know if we would change our name. We discussed it and we agreed so we kept it.”

He said the council agreed they were not doing anything wrong by using Native American names for their teams and the league.

Dan Policastro is a local patent and trademark attorney. He is also keeping a close on the Redskins name controversy.  “There has been a recent string of cases surrounding disparagement which is the reason why this trademark was struck down and that new case law suggest that the Redskins may not have as good of a chance of holding this trademark as they may have ten years ago.”

Policastro says the trademark office struck down six trademarks held by the Washington Redskins and if the decision is upheld, it could will affect the teams ability to make money on their name and image.

“It will still allow them to use the mark and the logo, but it won't allow them to have exclusive use of it.  So others can come in and potentially use the mark. They could create jerseys and Redskins apparel.”

Patella says he will continue to watch and monitor the controversy over the Redskin name but he says for now, the league does not have any plans to do away with the Sarasota Redskins name.