US Patent Office denies Commanders' trademark filing due to 'potential confusion'


Some bad news for the Washington Commanders, but perhaps some good news for those hoping for another rebrand under Josh Harris: the U.S.
Patent and Trademark Office has denied the team’s application for a trademark on the name due to ‘likelihood of confusion,’ citing one existing trademark and two pending applications for similar ones.

According to a Twitter thread posted by trademark attorney Josh Gerben, the first denial reason was the current trademark for the Commanders Classic, the name given to the annual Army vs. Air Force college football game – but the second is perhaps the more interesting: there are current filings for trademarks of the names “Washington Space Commanders” and “Washington Wolf Commanders” from the same person, Martin McCaulay, who apparently filed the trademarks trying to guess the new team name back in 2020.

The denials came last Thursday, and according to the Washington Post, McCaulay and his lawyers have sent a letter to the team saying they “will not stand in the way of the Washington NFL team,” and McCaulay “will gladly do whatever is in his power to clear a path for the team to rebrand itself without the need to incur significant legal fees.”

Per Gerben, if that happens, the Commanders can then either file a response to the first denial, claiming an NFL team is unlikely to be confused with a single college football game, or either attempt to buy the rights or sign a co-existence agreement.

In summation, Gerben said, “I believe the Washington Commanders will be able to work through these issues. It is likely the USPTO will drop the refusal due to the "Commander's Classic" trademark if a good legal argument is submitted. Then, all the Commanders need is a little help from McCaulay.”

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