Trademark troubles for the Washington football team
By Michael Antone, IP Attorney
The Washington football team trademark troubles continue as the team’s US TM application was refused by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”). US TM application number 97249440 for football services and clothing was refused based on a finding of a likelihood of confusion with the US registered trademark “Commanders’ Classic”, which is a trademark used to promote the annual college football game between Army and Air Force. Likelihood of confusion is the test in the US for trademark registration and infringement.
The team, and the NFL, which is now involved, will likely respond and argue that the refusal should be withdrawn. Given the level of investment in the name, it is likely that the team and NFL will find a resolution to this trademark issue that will allow the team to continue to use and protect the Commanders brand.
While the team is trying to gain traction with and protect its new brand, there is renewed interest in bringing back the old brand “Redskins” spearheaded by a Native American group.
This matter highlights the importance of performing trademark research before investing in a brand and diligently filing a trademark application to protect your investment in the brand you select.