The NFL filed a trademark for Duluth Eskimos last week, but don’t expect the Minnesota Vikings to be changing their name anytime soon.
“As part of the league’s 100th season, the team will look to celebrate and salute early football in the state of Minnesota,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy wrote in an email. “There are some team plans for promotional and content opportunities,” but he said there are no plans to wear the jerseys or change their name.
“The league had the trademark in the mid-’90s following the 75th season and was asked by the club to file again,” McCarthy said.
One trademark attorney noted Tuesday on Twitter that the trademark application includes the phrase “football games and exhibitions.”
“It would be very odd for the NFL to have put this language in the application and not intend to actually have a team playing underneath this name,” Josh Gerben said. “In order for a trademark application to ultimately register you must use the trademark for the services identified in the application.”
The Duluth Eskimos were a professional football team from 1923-1927. Their success with Hall of Famer Ernie Nevers was credited with keeping the nascent National Football League afloat.
“Where would the NFL be if not for the Eskimos barnstorming and filling stadiums?” Erin Swartz, the Vikings brand and creative director, told News Tribune Editorial Page Editor Chuck Frederick last fall. (Frederick wrote about the Eskimos in a 2007 book, “Leatherheads of the North”.)
Swartz said at the time the team was lobbying to wear the jerseys during a game for the NFL’s 100th season, which the league already has started celebrating.
The Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League - which owns the trademark “Eskimo” in the U.S. and Canada - have come under fire for the use of the name. Inuit leaders have asked the team to change it.
According to the Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks: “Although the name ‘Eskimo’ is commonly used in Alaska to refer to all Inuit and Yupik people of the world, this name is considered derogatory in many other places because it was given by non-Inuit people and was said to mean ‘eater of raw meat.’ ”