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More DC Drama: Commies’ Team-Name Trademark Application Denied

I don’t know what it is about the Washington NFL franchise, but they sure seem to generate a lot of off-field drama. First it was their team name, then it was Daniel Snyder’s misogynistic shenanigans, and now the team’s attempt to trademark the name “Commanders” has been turned down by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

According to Sports Illustrated:

The letter sent to Washington [from the USPTO] said that the application was denied for two reasons; 1. The “Commanders’ Classic,” which is the annual football game between Army and Air Force. 2. Previous trademarks for the Washington Space Commanders and Washington Wolf Commanders were made by a man named Martin McCaulay, who lives in DC.

There are potential workarounds that the team could pursue. But with the team having just been sold and nobody all that excited about the “Commanders” identity, many observers are already suggesting that the new owners should just give the team a(nother) new name.

If that were to happen, the team would be on its fourth identity in a relatively short time period, having previously cycled through “Redskins” (last used in 2019), “Washington Football Team” (2020 and ’21) and “Commanders” (2022). That would surely set some sort of record for the most team names in the shortest time frame.

Comments (54)

    I might be one of the few who liked them as the generically named, “Washington Football Team”. Yes, I thought it was kind of stupid at first, but I grew to kind of enjoy it. (So long as they’d be the ONLY team to do something like that. If other teams adopted the same approach — a la soccer — then it wouldn’t be cool.) Bring back the “Football Team”!!

    I want to establish a pro sports team in Arizona. Their total identity:


    Is that the location? Yes. Is that the team name? Yes again.

    A lot of people, me included, liked “Football Team”, but as with everything (including Commanders now I assume), it comes down to money. The trademark office denied them a trademark for “Football Team”, claiming that it was too generic. If they had stuck with that name, anyone could make and sell merchandise, because the name would not be protected.

    Perhaps “Comrades” is still available.

    In all seriousness, I for one hope the new ownership scraps it and starts from scratch (name/mascot and uniforms). Then again I’m not a WFT fan. I imagine all this tomfoolery is tiresome for the fan base.

    I think Football Team was more accepted by the fanbase than Commanders.

    The fanbase is pretty burnt out. Growing up in the area during the first Gibbs era there was nothing that unified everybody like that team. It’s incredible how irrelevant they have become. They are “just another DC team” now. I see a lot more Nats and Caps gear on fans.

    Dan Snyder going away will help, but ultimately, the three things that will make people really care again are:

    Move back to RFK site – I think it’s unlikely and even if they did, it would not be the same. The days of the urban football stadium surrounded by nothing but parking have passed – it’s terrible land use.

    More traditional uniforms – They’ll be back in something more recognizable by 2027. If I were Josh Harris, I’d tell the NFL that for $6 billion, a five year waiting period between uniform changes can be waived.

    Winning –

    I was in DC fairly recently, and saw more Nats, Caps, Wizards and DC United gear than Commanders (or WFT or the previous identity). It’s honestly sad.

    It’s also probably the first time the football team hasn’t been #1 in visibility there since a couple of years after it moved there from Boston 90 years ago. An amazing achievement by Snyder.

    As an outsider I will parrot support for the Football Team. While I did feel like it started as part “F-you” to anyone who pushed to get rid of the old name, and part hasty placeholder, it somehow seemed to grow on everyone and it had a certain old-school charm of still being the odd-team out in terms of naming and making the statement that this was still a legacy franchise.

    As a niners fan, I certainly feel the pain of a team moving to a “modern, high tech, state of the art” (much less enjoyable) stadium in a totally different (but nearby) geographical location. It’s a bummer and it’s a big turn-off of attending games, which hurts fans’ enthusiasm.

    As for the unis, the commies (imo) have got the unfortunate combo of Nike’s current strategies: underthinking but overexplaining, and overdesigning but underwhelming.

    I think USPTO had an examiner/football fan that didn’t like Washington Commies….Back to the RedWolves?

    Martin McCauley, the trademark squatter who owns “Washington Space Commanders”, also has dibs on “Washington Red Wolves”… and apparently 40+ other names: link

    The WFT should probably just pay him for one, as he obviously has them beat.

    “Mr. McCaulay has no intention to stand in the way of the Washington NFL Team…Mr McCaulay will gladly do whatever is in his power to clear a path for the Washington NFL team to rebrand itself without the need to incur substantial legal fees.”

    Seems at odds with the action taken with USPTO.


    I hope McCauley gives them a list of patents he’s willing to sell them, and excludes R*dskins and Commanders from the list.

    And I say this as a lifelong fan happy to no longer support anything owned by Daniel Snyder.

    They’ll be hard pressed to top the CFL team that spent two years in Baltimore in the mid-90’s. First pitched as the Baltimore CFL Colts, the Irsays “cease & desisted” that in a hurry. There was even a hype ad on local TV that wound up being particularly funny because they were forced to bleep and blur any references to that originally planned name. Made it seem dirty, which was perfect for this 12-year-old (in age then, in spirit still now).

    The team then played the 1994 season as the “Baltimore CFLs” or “Baltimore CFL Team” (or affectionately, “The Horse with No Name”).

    Before the start of the 1995 season, that was changed to the Baltimore Football Club (with tag line “Big, Bad and Blue!”), but IIRC, they also ran into a trademark issues with a local soccer amateur team. This led to them finally adopting the moniker “Baltimore Stallions” just before their first home game of the season and keeping that through the rest of their brief stay in Charm City.

    Of course, by 1996, the Ravens had landed and the Stallions had galloped off to Montreal to take on their fifth name in about 30 months, the Alouettes!

    New owner should start from scratch with a new team name and logo (even if I like the folded W). The Commanders will always be associated with the mess the Snyders made of this once proud team, so keep the colors, keep the folded W as a secondary logo (like the Bears B on coaches hats) and say goodbye to the Snyder era forever. Fresh start, clean slate.

    I disagree. The burgundy and gold existed before Snyder, it should exist after him.

    Part of me would love to see them go back to the ‘old’ gold and burgundy…maybe even resurrect the 2012 generically terrific throwback look with the faux-leather helmets (sans shoulder patches):

    That color was closer to maroon than burgundy. I think a return to the WFT unis (with NO MONO other than a white/white combo) would be fine. Burgundy/burgundy/athletic gold for home, burgundy/white/white for roads. Done and done.

    Maybe even throw in an alternate gold hat for TNF/SNF/MNF games


    This comment reminds me of one of my favorite jokes from “The Simpsons”: link

    Just leave them as Commanders. It’s a lame identity and everyone seems to be rooting for the once great franchise to right the ship (kind of like Cleveland before *that* trade), but they might as well just keep it, now. They desperately need new uniforms, but a new identity will just hurt things worse. Make chicken salad and stop this carousel.

    More lasting results of Dan Snyder’s mismanagement. He drew out the obviously inevitable renaming process so long that IP squatters had basically infinite time to stake legally adequate claims to just about any conceivable new team name. If Snyder had acted quickly and with decision, there would have been less squatting, and the squatters would have had weaker claims. The Commies can easily work out a deal with the Department of Defense on the overlap with the military academies’ event, but any name will face the same roadblock and expense with the IP squatters.

    I just don’t understand why the team didn’t do their due diligence and run out to trademark everything on their short list before even announcing that a change was being considered. Even if one of the options was somehow already had a squatter on it, they probably would have sold out cheap to a shell company if they didn’t know how much leverage they had. But I guess that’s why I’m not in business…

    You’re wondering why Dan Snyder and his “management” team didn’t do the smart thing? You new around here?

    Hope they ditch “Commanders” if only to prevent my having to read “Commies” on this site every day.

    If you’re really reading “Commies” on this site “every day,” as you claim, you must really be hunting thru the archives.


    Washington Football Club always seemed like a good idea to me…

    DCFC sounds cool…

    Too much change hurts equity and confirms this team as the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. Just tough it out with “Commanders” (it is, after all, a unique team name) and pay the necessary people.

    Pay the 3 dollars to the USFL and call them the Federals. Change the green and black to burgundy and gold.

    I liked the name and logo, but come on, that team was more inept than the Redski….. I mean Football Tea…. I mean Commanders!

    “We’ll never change the name. Never.” – Dan Snyder.
    Weak branding for a weak leader. Didn’t have the guts to stand and fight…his cowardice probably bred/lead to indifference, on top of his incompetence.
    That’s my $.02.
    While I’m somewhat swayed by a non-factual argument that the NFL heavily weighed in on the re-brand decisions, I will continue to feel that the entirety of Commies, including the uniforms-by-committee approach, was purposefully mishandled by Snyder to devalue the team and/or possibly make it easier (emotionally) for him to let it go.
    I hold out hope that the general look of this franchise will be by-and-large restored by the new owners…please bring back yellow pants!

    I don’t care what the name is. But go back to the Football Team era unis. Those were great. The classics with Washington on the chest in place of the previous name, and just the numbers of the helmet. It just looked so, football-y. Frankly Football Team works fine but I imagine the endearing silliness of it will grow old eventually. Honestly, Pigskins is kinda cool. Can still shorten it to ‘skins, it’s not offensive, it’s befitting of the sport.

    “Red Tails” would have been a great, inclusive move with lots of good historical tie-ins. “WFT” and “Commanders” just felt to me like a big middle finger from Snyder for feeling compelled to do anything in the first place.

    Most of the world thinks that is a synonym for “Frequently Kicked and Abused Buttocks”, a characteristic I’d be anxious to distance from my football team.

    The Chicago Packers basketball team of 1961 renamed themselves the Chicago Zephyrs for 1962, then moved to Baltinore as the Baltimore Bullets the next year. Ten years alter they declared themsleves the Capital Bullets, then a year later the Washington Bullets. 23 years later they became the Wizards as well.

    Yes, I think while Washington is vying for the most team name changes without physically moving the team, there have been other cases where franchises have changed their names several times in less than 5 years because of moves. The great NFL example (a death vortex that accounts for most of the unstable, defunct NFL teams since 1935) is the Brooklyn Tigers-Dodgers/Boston Yanks/New York Bulldogs/New York AAFC Yankees/New York NFL Yanks/Dallas Texans/Baltimore (new) Colts fiasco involving various mergers, franchise shifts, and an owner actually ditching the NFL for the AAFC but not legally being able to take the franchise with him. You can argue that all those were actually two franchises that moved a lot and then merged with each other and then moved two more times. All that in about 8 years.

    I may be way behind on this, but was “Pigskins” ever proposed. Similar and familiar to their original name, their mascot is a pig and then of course the obvious football reference. Maybe this is another opportunity to fix their uniforms, ie. using the same number font on all unis, adding yellow/gold pants, getting rid of the gradient on the white jersey and dropping black all together

    A Virginia sportswriter was championing Pigskins long ago, maybe a decade ago, and I’ve been on board for it ever since.

    McCaulay’s lawyer has indicated that they are willing to yield the trademark claim: link

    Based on the article linked in Ron Santo’s Little Helper’s comment above, apparently it was always McCaulay’s intention to simply warehouse the trademarks, and whichever among them the team chose, he’d basically just give it to them.

    Sweet, maybe they’ll take it as a sign and fix the abomination that is their new look.

    Totally. Since I first heard the DoF idea a few years ago, that has been my favorite. And if not that, whattabout the Pigskins? Both seem fitting.

    This is their big chance – Washington Sentinels and have Shane Falco… I mean Keanu Reeves call the first coin toss!

    Wow! There, there Washington fans. This time around my favorites for a new name are:
    3. Washington Sandwiches – because D.C. is sandwiched between Maryland and Virginia
    2. Washington Foggy Bottoms – after the neighborhood
    1. Washington or D.C. Retros – referencing how the town was created- “retrocession”, and it also satisfies the love R-name fans

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