The ‘Hogs’ file for trademark ahead of Commanders celebration

Washington football’s renowned “Hogs” have filed for patent approval of a federal trademark to help with sorting out copyright compensation claims.

Washington legends Joe Jacoby, Mark May, John Riggins, Fred Dean, and Doc Walker are seeking that the “Hogs” legacy be protected by a federal trademark.

“The Commanders are using the original HOGS brand for commercial purposes with NO compensation to the men who’s blood & sweat equity built the original HOGS brand 40 years ago,” said Seth Berenzweig, lead attorney representing O-Line entertainment, in a statement.

Members of the Washington “Hogs” gather for a portrait during picture day activities in Tampa, Fla., Jan. 17, 1984. The “Hogs” are, from left: guard Mark May; assistant head coach-offense Joe Bugel; center Jeff Bostic; tackle George Starke; guard Russ Grimm and tackle Joe Jacoby. (AP Photo)

On Jan. 1, Berenzweig said that the Commanders are “going forward” with a celebration of the “Hogs” and that they have “tried to amicably resolve this dispute for many months” with no solution.

“We are planning a celebration of the greatest offensive line ever to play the game,” said Jean Medina, spokesperson for the Commanders. “The HOGS are a key part of our franchise’s history and we want to keep their legacy alive with the next generation of fans. We have been working with the Hogs on this event for six months and look forward to welcoming them and Coach Gibbs back.”

Medina explained that the event scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 1 is intended to honor the Hogs at both pregame and half time.

“Coach Gibbs will be there and will serve as the honorary captain,” Medina said.

Berenzweig said that former members of the “Hogs” are expecting a federal trademark in early 2023.

“The original HOGS do not want to be associated with the Commanders under its current ownership and management and require that their legacy and brand is protected,” Berenzweig said.

Berenzweig said that the former HOGS players hired his firm to help them form a company called O-Line Entertainment, and to file a federal application for the trademark to the “Hogs” and the Original HOGS. He said the application is currently pending at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

“This is not yet a lawsuit, but it may be,” Berenzweig told WTOP. “We’ve been trying to negotiate a license with the Commanders, and we’ve gotten absolutely nowhere. When someone holds a trademark, it’s their property, and the only way that someone else can use it is with permission through a license.”

This move comes a month after the team announced the surprising decision that Dan and Tanya Snyder hired Bank of America Securities to “consider potential transactions.” When asked in November if the Snyders were considering selling part or all of the team, a spokesperson said, “We are exploring all options.”

Retaining the investment bank’s services could mean a full sale amid mounting pressure and multiple ongoing investigations. Or, it could result in bringing on new investors more than 18 months after the Snyders bought out the previous minority owners. It’s the first indication Snyder has given that he’d even consider selling the team.

BofA Securities has handled other sales of professional sports teams, including Steve Ballmer buying the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers in 2014.

Bids for the Commanders have reportedly reached above $7 billion, according to CBS Sports.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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