Following mounting corporate and public pressure, the Washington NFL team has finally gotten rid of its “Redskins” name after 87 years. One prescient Virginia man is hoping to cash in on the change, having filed dozens of trademark claims for possible new names since 2014.
Washington owner Dan Snyder and new head coach Ron Rivera will “develop a new name and design” approach, the team said Monday. However, Martin McCaulay, an actuary from Alexandria, Virginia, jumped on the speculation of a name change way before the announcement.
McCaulay has filed numerous trademark claims in the last six years for potential monikers for the Washington football team. A search by CBS News in the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s database found at least seven names that have been registered in just the last month alone. Among them include the Washington Red Wolves, Washington Redtails, Washington Monuments, Washington Americans and Washington Veterans. The idea, presumably, would be to sell the name to Snyder should Washington choose one of the registered names.
Whether McCaulay, or anyone else attempting something similar, would see any profit depends on “intent” to use the names, according to one legal expert. David Leichtman, managing partner at Leichtman Law PLLC, cast doubt on the possibility of such a scheme being successful.
“So, if they happened to have correctly picked what the Washington football team decides to use as their new name … then the question will become, at the time they filed the mark, what was their true intent to filing for it?” Leichtman told CBS News. “I think it’s highly unlikely that the trademark office or a court will say somebody who was filing trademark application office solely for the purpose of speculating really had a bona fide attempt to use the name in commerce.”
“Football teams and NFL properties are known for being really aggressive for enforcing their brands and trademarks,” he added. “So, it would be surprising if they didn’t do something about it quickly if it turns out that one of these names is the one they intend to use.”
McCaulay was aware of this, however, so to boost his claim, he designed a website where he sells t-shirts, mugs, wine glasses and other merchandise featuring some of the names he trademarked. He told the Washington Times that he “went to the extreme of buying a lot of merchandise, making it my brand, and selling it.”
CBS News reached out to McCaulay for further comment but did not immediately hear back.
The Washington NFL franchise announced Monday it was “retiring” the Redskins name and logo immediately, following decades of criticism that both are offensive to Native Americans. The move came less than two weeks after owner Dan Snyder launched a “thorough review” amid pressure from sponsors. FedEx, Nike, Pepsi and Bank of America all lined up against the name, which was given to the franchise in 1933 when the team was still based in Boston.
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