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Washington Commanders trademark application denied

What’s next?

FedEx Field Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Update: Martin McCauley will allow the Commanders trademark if Washington contributes to a charity that offers scholarships to Native Americans

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’)

Gerben on the Commanders trademark:

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...