Why the Washington Redskins’ new name, logo announcement could take a while

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Martin McCaulay for years has been preparing for the NFL news that became official Monday. Washington announced it will retire its “Redskins” nickname and logos. At some point soon, the franchise will replace the racial slur with a new name.

Now McCaulay just needs the team to attempt to acquire one of the 40-plus word marks on which he already has filed trademarks.

McCaulay, a 61-year-old actuary who lives in Alexandria, Va., outside of Washington D.C., is not the only squatter who has filed to trademark names the NFL team could potentially pursue. But he has been at it for about six years, becoming ultra aggressive of late as the inevitability of the name change became more apparent.

MORE: Five options for Washington’s new team name

“It was, I thought, a fun hobby,” McCaulay recently told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “And it turned out that I got really good at it.”

McCaulay in 2015 told Fox 5 Washington D.C. he had to pay $20,000 per filing, and at the time, he had registered for trademark protection on 15 names. According to Pro Football Talk’s review of the United States Patent and Trademark Office database, McCaulay recently filed applications for a handful of new trademarks, including “Washington Redtails,” which is a favorite of at least one of the team’s key players.

Daniel Wallach, a legal analyst for The Athletic, explained Monday that McCaulay’s latest additions are “merely pending applications” that have “not been granted yet and are likely not in legitimate actual use.” But McCaulay is well aware of the obligations that come with trademarks, as their holders are required by law to actually put the terms to use.

“A squatter reserves a name with no intention to use it,” McCaulay told the Times-Dispatch. “I went to the extreme of buying a lot of merchandise, making it my brand, and selling it.”

Indeed, McCaulay’s website features merchandise displaying the trademarked names. For less than $6, for example, one can purchase a Washington Redtails wine glass. His legal reasoning behind filing for so many team names? “I’m going to start a flag football league,” he told the Times-Dispatch, claiming the plans for the league are delayed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

McCaulay and others employing the same strategy are banking on the idea that not only will the NFL franchise go after one of the names they already have trademarked, but that it will pay a hefty sum for the trademark rather than taking the time to go through what could be a lengthy litigation process. It’s unclear how much the team would need to pay McCaulay or anybody else for a trademark.

PFT also noted potential “Redskins” replacements filed by others in recent weeks: “By Richard Garrison of Los Angeles (Washington Braves, July 5); David Woods of Alexandria, Virginia (Washington Freedom Fighters, July 5), F1rst World Apparel of Santa Clarita, California (Washington War Hogs, July 5), Raymond Luchi of Santa Rosa, California (Washington Radskins, July 4), and David Howard of Rockville Centre, New York (Washington Potomacs, July 3).”

The team — or at least coach Ron Rivera — hopes it can have a new name in place by the time the 2020 NFL season starts in September. The team is expected to keep its burgundy and gold color scheme but avoid Native American imagery on its logos and uniforms.

“(Team owner) Dan Snyder and Coach Rivera are working closely to develop a new name and design approach that will enhance the standing of our proud, tradition-rich franchise and inspire our sponsors, fans and community for the next 100 years,” the team’s statement read.

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