The saga of the Washington Redskins controversy, in which NFL fans and eventually sponsors protested the team’s name on the argument it was offensive towards Native Americans, began bubbling in earnest in the late 2010s before the team finally agreed to change the name in 2020. After playing two seasons as «The Washington Football Team,» all seemed settled when the team entered the 2022 season as the Washington Commanders. However, in a true «What Year Is It?» update, the team may be forced to change its name yet again.
Caught by The Washington Post yesterday, the Commanders were recently denied their trademark application by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, citing «a likelihood of confusion» with the name Washington Commanders and other trademarked names. These include the «Commanders’ Classic,» an annual football game between the Army and Air Force, and several trademarks owned by one Martin McCaulay, who appears, in essence, to be a local guy who bought a lot of trademarks for potential team names, such as «Washington Space Commanders» and «Washington Wolf Commanders,» when the «Redskins» controversy started heating up in 2013. McCaulay has said he’s willing to give the team any of the names he’s sitting on in exchange for a donation to a Native American college scholarship.
The team feels confident it will win its appeal that is set to be heard in August. A spokesperson said this initial denial was «an ordinary course step in the standard trademark registration process» and stated «there is no likelihood of confusion» between «The Washington Commanders» and the names that could potentially confuse consumers.
Nevertheless, the door is open for the Washington football team name saga to get even more Kafka-esque, and some on social media seemed ready to embrace the chaos.