Washington Commanders Could Potentially Change Name (Again) After Denied Trademark

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Andrew Powell Sports and Entertainment Blogger
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The DMV can’t catch a break.

Under Dan Snyder, the Washington Commanders have been going through nonsense for decades, but since 2020, the brand itself has been going through a whirlwind with two name changes — eventually settling on the weak ‘Commanders’ moniker (I’m not a fan) before the 2022 NFL season.

But they couldn’t get that right either in typical dysfunctional fashion, as the franchise had their request to trademark “Washington Commanders” turned down May 18 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

There’s two reasons that the USPTO cited for their refusal:

  1. A trademark already exists for “Commanders’ Classic,”which is the annual college football game between Army and Air Force.
  2. “Prior-filed applications” by a squatter named Martin McCaulay, who filed trademarks for multiple potential team names that he thought the Washington franchise would use, doing this in the years leading up to the name change from the Redskins. Two of the names that he happened to file for are the “Washington Wolf Commanders” and “Washington Space Commanders.” McCaulay said previously he would give the trademarks to the team for free.

Here is the thread from trademark attorney Josh Gerben:

There are a few ways that Washington can deal with this situation.

They could go ahead and just roll along with the ‘Washington Commanders’ name and continue merchandising sales, however, it would make things complicated in terms of stopping third-party sellers from putting their own ‘Washington Commanders’ merchandise on the market. Or, Washington could appeal the ruling from USPTO altogether to see what happens.

However, another option that the Commanders could consider is changing the team name … yes, again. Yeah, that might be an extreme path. Yeah, it would be the third time in three years (a little embarrassing) that the franchise would change their name, but let’s be honest here … who on God’s green earth likes the ‘Washington Commanders’ name?

It’s a horrible moniker, so it’s incredibly interesting to me that this trademark denial could potentially open up the floodgates on a name change. Do I think it will happen? (RELATED: Florida Panthers Punch Tickets To Stanley Cup Final For First Time In 27 Years After Sweeping Carolina Hurricanes)

Of course not, but if I was the new owner of the what-should-be Washington Redskins, I would definitely be putting this on the table of considerations, and quite frankly, it would be my favorite option. I’d go through the embarrassment of getting a new name that actually pops, a brand that actually is marketable and sexy, because the ‘Commanders’ isn’t doing that for me.

The Commanders won’t go this route, but it’s very fascinating that the idea is floating around out there as much as it is.