While the NFL’s Washington Football Team decides on a more permanent name (likely in 2022), its hopes of trademarking its current moniker have been put on ice. On June 18, 2021, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) issued an initial refusal of the Team’s application to trademark “Washington Football Team,” nearly a year after the mark was applied for.
The USPTO’s reasoning was twofold. First, the USPTO reasoned that the applied-for mark was “primarily geographically descriptive”—i.e., that the mark was too generic. Second, the USPTO determined that “Washington Football Team” too closely resembled a preexisting registration for the “Washington Football Club,” a trademark applied for by Martin McCaulay. Mr. McCaulay is a longtime fan of the Team who holds several trademarks for Washington-related team names, including the “Red-Tailed Hawks” and the “Americans,” Because of these issues, the Washington Football Team may have a difficult time preventing others from copying its name on apparel and other merchandise throughout the 2021 NFL season.
The Washington Football Team has until December 18, 2021, to file a response to the USPTO. By that time, the Team will be thirteen games into the now seventeen-game NFL season.