Last year Washington dropped its controversial nickname and took over the Washington Football team instead. At a time when making this non-name the permanent name of the team was under consideration, a decision by the federal agency responsible for these matters meant a setback for the franchise.
The US Patent and Trademark Office, through Sam Fortier of the Washington Post, has denied the franchise company’s application for trademark protection of the Washington Football Team name. The agency concluded that the name was referring to too generic a geographic area and that notorious occupant Martin McCaulay had already filed an application for the name. (The first conclusion would apparently also invalidate McCaulay’s claim.)
It’s only the beginning, not the end, and the process will continue. And the outcome of the process doesn’t matter whether the team can use the name. The only question is whether the name can be protected for marketing purposes.
That’s more than enough to move the team to another name. In fact, if the trademark rights were scrapped and anyone could sell goods with that name, the team faced a widespread trademark attack on its previous name, on the assumption that the team would give it up.
So if WFT ultimately cannot be legally protected, the team will find a name that can be protected. Unlike the ones they gave up last year, probably.