The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has rejected Washington’s initial trademark application for the “Washington Football Team” name that it played under in 2020.
Trademark expert Josh Gerben tweeted a copy of the USPTO refusal on Twitter Saturday.
The USPTO has issued an initial refusal of the trademark application for WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM.
The USPTO found a pre-existing registration for WASHINGTON FOOTBALL CLUB was too close to WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM.
The WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM will have 6 months to respond. pic.twitter.com/XG89Ls8HlS
— Josh Gerben (@JoshGerben) June 19, 2021
The USPTO ruled that the “Washington Football Team” name too closely resembled a preexisting registration for the “Washington Football Club.”
The refusal more specifically involves the “clothing” portion of the application. If the WFT were to remove that part of the proposal, the team would be approved to use the “Washington Football Team” name, per Gerben. Although, it’s highly unlikely that the franchise would agree to not sell team merchandise.
Reaching a difficult impasse with this application, the team now has six months to respond to the refusal.
The current “Washington Football Club” trademark is owned by Philip McCaulay. In order to get the refusal withdrawn, the team would either have to consider pursuing a “Petition to Cancel” McCaulay’s registration or buy out his rights.
The USPTO also claimed that the “WFT” name was “too geographically descriptive” of a generally known location. This is the least of Washington’s worries though as they would be able to dispute this by showing that the trademark has “acquired distinctiveness,” meaning that the average sports fan recognizes the name as the area’s NFL team.
Still operating under the “Washington Football Team” name, the franchise will take on the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 1.
For a full copy of the USPTO’s refusal, click here.