Josh Harris hasn’t officially taken the mantle of the now-Washington Commanders yet, and his first mess from the poop trail of Dan Snyder is underway. The Commanders might have to change their name again, as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied their application for the term “Commanders” on Thursday. The reason for the denial was because of confusion with two other Commanders-related terms in sports, per WTOP. Will the nation’s capital have a professional football team with a third different nickname in the last four years? It’s not impossible, and honestly, it would correct a mistake caused by laziness from the soon-to-be-former administration running the franchise.
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All the good names are already taken
The two other Commanders’ uses in sports are the Commanders Classic, a game contested between Air Force and Army’s football teams. The other involves a long-time fan of the team who filed for “Washington Wolf Commanders” and “Washington Space Commanders” patents in August 2021, which obviously precedes the Commanders’ filing date. Snyder would’ve never stated publicly that he never got his first, second, or third choice to name the then-Washington Football Team after the Redskins’ moniker was finally trashed in 2020. The efforts of a random actuary from Virginia may have successfully blocked Snyder from some more desirable team names, per sports attorney Dan Lust. The already-trademarked choices include Red Wolves, Tribe, Redtails, Renegades, Herald, and Justice, which are all better fits than the Commanders.
Without having the terms Commanders patented, the team may have a harder time taking knock-off merchandise down from non-NFL websites. The next step for Washington is likely an appeal to the decision. Patents are issued at large to confuse from products that aren’t real, but are advertised as similar or exact. It’s unclear who would think a college football game between two of the three FBS service academies and a long-standing NFL franchise would be the same thing. To whoever you are, get your head checked. Same with any confusion about the terms “Space Commanders” or “Wolf Commanders” instead of boring-old Commanders. The fan who owns the trademarks told The Washington Post in 2020 he wouldn’t stand in the way of any name the franchise wanted to have.
Par for the course in Washington
The little disturbance of being denied by the USPTO shouldn’t disrupt any larger plans Harris has for the organization. If he wanted to rename the team before the patent denial, it was going to happen anyway, as whatever new name the franchise would have would also need to be patented. This is another example in the world of “because it’s Washington” as the team has become the butt of many jokes around the league for its poor leadership and average on-field standards. And even with Snyder on his way out, this wrinkle is on brand. Just another headache for the migraine specialists in Ashburn, Virginia.