Alexandria man holds trademarks for potential new names for DC’s NFL team

If Washington’s NFL team considers one of the many team name ideas being discussed online, there may be some hurdles to cross.

Some people are applying for trademarks for some of the possible names, and an actuary from Alexandria, Virginia, is among them.

Phillip Martin McCaulay, 61, has made dozens of submissions to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for almost a dozen potential names and other iterations of them.

McCaulay told WTOP he has been applying for potential team names for years, starting with the Washington Pigskins.

The NFL then wrote to him that they were aware he chose to trademark a name close to the NFL team’s name. However, the organization didn’t challenge the trademark.

In 2015, he applied for several more, which he intended to just allow to expire. But then, he noticed in recent months that people were betting on some of the names as possibilities to be adopted by the franchise.

“I thought, I have a lot of names on the odds board,” he said.

So, he has sent in renewal applications for the same names. However, he said he isn’t looking to make money off the team if they like one of the names.

Washington Redtails, Washington RedHawks, and Washington Americans are names McCaulay said he holds the rights for, and they’re rights he said he would gladly relinquish as a way to facilitate the team’s name change.

“I think that’s something the Native Americans who’ve been trying to get this done for decades would think was a nice thing to do,” he said.

The D.C.-area NFL team announced Monday that it would retire its current name and logo, but online discussions about possible choices have been ongoing for years. Calls for the team to drop the name and logo, which some consider offensive to Native Americans, have recently intensified.

Registering a trademark is one thing, but to keep it, the person who filed has to use the trademarked name. That’s mandated under a government provision intended to deter what is considered trademark squatting, or buying a name with hopes of an entity that wants to use it pays for the trademark registration.

McCaulay has maintained a website that sells merchandise with names to prove that requirement but said he probably couldn’t win a court battle to keep the trademarks from the team in court.

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Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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