Earlier this week, the Washington Redskins announced they would be retiring the team name, due in no small part to societal and corporate pressures that have been mounting for decades.
While various fan groups and news outlets speculate and take polls regarding what the new name should be, others are entering the fray to do something about it; namely, registering various potential names in hopes, presumably, of cashing in. The practice is called “trademark squatting” and applies specifically to folks who register trademarks without real intention to use them. To be legitimate, more is required than simply plopping down the $275 application fee with the United States Trademark and Patent Office (“USTPO”).
Philip Martin McCaulay, a 61-year-old Alexandria, VA resident is chief among those registering Washington-based names and has been trademarking them for years. As of 2015, McCaulay registered trademarks for the Washington Americans, Washington Bravehearts, Washington Federals, Washington Forces, Washington Founders, Washington Gladiators, Washington Monuments, Washington Pandas, Washington Pigskins, Washington Red-Tailed Hawks, Washington Warriors, Washington Renegades, Washington Sharks, Washington Veterans, and Washington Tribe. In the last two weeks, McCaulay registered a slew of other names, which brings his grand total to 44 potential names, at a cost of about $20,000.
Various other speculators filed trademark applications in recent weeks (Radskins? Really, Raymond Luchi of Santa Rosa, CA?) invoking the Washington franchise, but none others with McCaulay’s prodigiousness. To be enforceable, one must also show the trademark’s use in interstate commerce. To that end (and to show he’s no squatter), McCaulay established a website selling products regarding his various trademarks, WashingtonAmericansFootball.com. The requirement of interstate commerce could be complicated by McCaulay’s insistence that purchasers come to his home to accept delivery of certain items, such as a minimum order of 72 Washington Redtails coffee mugs.
A trademark dispute may already be brewing between majority owner Tom Snyder and one of the alleged trademark squatters, if only because the franchise announced it was retiring the Redskins name without announcing the new name, as one would expect. Trademark squatters rely on the dual assumptions that the franchise will want one of the names already trademarked and is willing to pay some sum of money to avoid what would otherwise be an expensive and lengthy litigation process. It remains to be seen whether Snyder and other alleged squatters will find themselves on common ground or in battle, as suggested by many of the pending and registered monikers.
Lindley Law proudly registered its logo with the USTPO and, as of the date of this publication, no one has offered to buy it from us. If you want help protecting or selling your intellectual or other property rights, please call us at (704) 457-1010 to schedule a consultation. For more information regarding our firm, attorneys, and practice areas, please visit http://www.lindleylawoffice.com/.