Commanders Have Trademark Application Denied Thanks In Part To An Enterprising Fan

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It’s been close to three years since Dan Snyder was forced to walk back his claim that he’d never change the name of the NFL franchise he purchased in 1999 after a few investment firms banded together to successfully lobby some major sponsors to force him to abandon the “Redskins” moniker. 

In a fairly strange turn of events, the franchise decided to temporarily rebrand as the “Washington Football Team” thanks in no small part to some people who beat them to the punch by filing a number of trademarks for names that were rumored to be in contention or simply felt like a natural fit.

There were plenty of people (including myself) who felt they should’ve fully embraced and stuck with the “Football Team” approach, but when everything was said and done, they ultimately went with the “Washington Commanders” ahead of the 2022 season.

Pending a fairly unexpected development, Josh Harris will become the majority owner of the Commanders after the ownership group he helmed tentatively purchased them from Snyder for more than $6 billion—although he may be dealing with a minor headache once the sale is finalized.

On Wednesday, intellectual property attorney Josh Gerben announced the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) had denied the trademark application that had been filed for the Commanders name while citing two reasons to justify the decision.

The first issue is that the annual showdown between the football teams representing Air Force and Army is already known as the “Commanders’ Classic,” which the USPTO views as a potentially confusing overlap.

However, the franchise encountered a second roadblock courtesy of Martin McCaulay, who had already filed a trademark for the “Washington Space Commanders” and Washington Wolf Commanders” before the actual Commanders sent in their paperwork.

As Gerben notes, the franchise has some options to ensure it secures the trademark, and McCaulay has previously stated he doesn’t have any intention of engaging in a drawn-out legal battle (although it’s safe to assume he’s open to ceding his claim for a relatively nominal fee).

At least there’s always “Football Team” to fall back on.

Connor O'Toole avatar
Connor Toole is the Deputy Editor at BroBible. He is a New England native who went to Boston College and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY. Frequently described as "freakishly tall," he once used his 6'10" frame to sneak in the NBA Draft and convince people he was a member of the Utah Jazz.