Update: Martin McCauley will allow the Commanders trademark if Washington contributes to a charity that offers scholarships to Native Americans
Martin McCaulay, the DC-area man with pending TM apps in the way of the NFL’s Washington Commanders, will step aside in exchange for a contribution to a charity that offers scholarships to Native Americans. Contact @HEITNERLEGAL for specifics. https://t.co/sAu11ZiSw5— Darren Heitner (@DarrenHeitner) May 25, 2023
The Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder finally relented to outside pressure to change the team’s name from the Redskins in 2020, and changed it to the placeholder ‘Football Team’. Washington played under that for two seasons, but announced their new name on 2/2/22, and are now in year 2 with their new branding. Washington asked for fan input during the name change process, and tried to make the process look inclusive. Red Wolves was a popular option in the fanbase, but trademark issues were cited when Commanders was named the final choice.
The United States Patent Organization has reportedly denied the trademark application from Pro Football, Inc., Snyder’s company that owns the Washington Commanders. Josh Gerben, a trademark attorney who has been following this case, posted the following thread detailing the reasons for the USPTO’s denial of PFI’s application. He believes that the team will eventually work through the issues that led to the denial, but the issue isn’t settled at this time.
The first issue raised by the USPTO is an existing trademark for the “Commanders’ Classic”, the yearly college football game between the Air Force and Army teams.
Gerben offered two resolutions to this issue:
- File a response, arguing that a NFL team is unlikely to be confused with a single college game.
- Attempt to buy out the rights or sign a co-existence agreement.
The second issue stems from noted trademark-squatter Martin McCaulay who has been filing for numerous trademarks in an attempt to guess the Commanders new name. He holds two trademarks(‘Washington Space Commanders’. ‘Washington Wolf Commanders’)
The Washington Commanders' trademark was refused because of an existing registration for:— Josh Gerben (@JoshGerben) May 24, 2023
This is the name of a yearly college football game between the Air Force and Army teams.
What are the Commanders' next steps?— Josh Gerben (@JoshGerben) May 24, 2023
As for the "Commanders' Classic" registration, the team can:
➡️ file a response, arguing that a NFL team is unlikely to be confused with a single college game.
➡️ attempt to buy out the rights or sign a co-existence agreement.
I believe the Washington Commanders will be able to work through these issues.— Josh Gerben (@JoshGerben) May 24, 2023
It is likely the USPTO will drop the refusal due to the "Commander's Classic" trademark if a good legal argument is submitted.
Then, all the Commanders need is a little help from McCaulay.
Gerben on the Commanders trademark:
Speaking w @JoshGeren on Commanders trademark issues: "I understand this looks to be very on brand with the team as far as things not going correctly, but for the trademark process, this is not abnormal...It's a very crowded system to try to get things through."— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) May 24, 2023
Washington Commanders statement:
“The trademark office’s recent nonfinal office action is an ordinary course step in the standard trademark registration process. We will respond to the Trademark Office’s office action and are confident that our registration will be issued.”
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio raised a point that a lot of fans are probably also thinking about when reading this headline...
Gerben believes the team will eventually be able to use the name. The separate question is whether new ownership will want to. The best move could be to make a clean break from All Things Snyder, and a full rebrand could be part of that effort.
Pro Football Inc did get one trademark approved though...