Redskins Name Football

In this photo taken Aug. 7, 2014, the Washington Redskins logo is seen on the field before an NFL football preseason game against the New England Patriots in Landover, Md. Lawyers for the Washington Redskins are telling a judge that the team’s free-speech rights are being infringed by a federal panel’s decision to cancel the team’s trademarks for being disparaging to Native Americans. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — Lawyers for the Washington Redskins are telling a judge that upholding a federal panel’s decision to cancel the team’s trademarks would infringe upon the team’s free-speech rights.

A board of the U.S. Patent And Trademark Office ruled last year that the Redskins’ trademark should be canceled because the name is disparaging to Native Americans.

The team is suing in federal court in Alexandria to have the board’s decision overturned. In court papers filed Monday, the team says the law barring registration of disparaging trademarks is unconstitutional under the First Amendment.

The government has intervened in the lawsuit to defend the law’s constitutionality. Government lawyers say the law doesn’t ban disparaging speech, it just denies the protection of a federal trademark.