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A Cochiti Pueblo artist is at the center of a revitalized legal battle to revoke the Redskins’ trademark name, which American Indian groups say is insulting. Mateo Romero, 38, said there is “incredible pain” associated with American Indian images used by sports teams such as the NFL’s Washington Redskins. A panel of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the Redskins’ trademarks in 1999 on grounds the name disparaged American Indians in violation of the federal trademark law. But U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in November 2003 overturned the ruling, saying there was insufficient evidence to conclude the Redskins name was disparaging to American Indians. She also said the seven plaintiffs in the case had no standing to complain because they waited too long after the date of the first Redskins trademark. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., found Friday that one plaintiff — Romero — still could have standing because he was only 1 year old in 1967 when the Redskins name was registered. “I’m the exception,” Romero told the Albuquerque Journal on Monday. “It comes down to that I have not had my day in court.” The appeals court sent the case back to U.S. District Court for review. The dispute involves six trademarks owned by Pro-Football Inc., the corporate owner of the team. The oldest is “The Redskins,” written in a stylized script in 1967. The outcome of the case ultimately could affect millions of dollars in sales of Redskins merchandise. The true force behind the case is Suzan Shown Harjo, an American Indian activist and scholar in Washington, D.C., Romero said. “She was the vision behind it,” he said. “She’s very much the quarterback.” Romero, who met Harjo when he was an undergraduate student at Dartmouth College in the mid-1980s, said he considers her an aunt and a mentor. “I loved her public speaking and her no-nonsense approach to native policy matters,” Romero said. Harjo said Monday she selected her fellow defendants before the lawsuit was launched in 1992. Romero was a prime choice because of his youth, his ideas as an artist and his “Indian warrior quality,” she said. “I thought he could speak to the authenticity of native images and how you can’t see the real deal Indian stuff until you sweep aside the stereotypical underbrush, which is what he does in his paintings,” Harjo said. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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