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2 lessons from USPTO rejection of NFL trademark

by | Jul 6, 2021 | Trademarks

A trademark can offer protection for businesses with a name or logo worth protecting. Trademark protections are available through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and can help in case another business attempts to steal the name or logo to sell their own product.

In a recent example, the USPTO was asked to trademark a National Football League (NFL) team name. An NFL team is a clear example of the need for trademark protection. The team would likely sell t-shirts, jerseys, footballs, and other paraphernalia for a large profit. Without trademark protections in place, any t-shirt producer or other business could use the logo for their own returns.

The NFL team that requested the trademark was the former Washington Redskins. They filed a trademark protection for a new proposed name: the Washington Football Team. The USPTO rejected this request because it was primarily geographic in nature and was too close to another trademarked name. The agency explained that simply stating it was a team from a state was not enough to justify trademark protections.

Businesses can reduce the risk that their requested trademark would be too similar to other registered trademarks by completing a trademark search before filling out their application.

If another business attempts to use a registered trademark, the trademark holder can use their protections to request a court place an injunction on the offending business. This would mean that they could no longer continue to use the name or logo. The trademark holding business can also request monetary damages if the other business profited off of the use of their name or logo. Again, these legal remedies are only available if the business has registered their trademark with the USPTO.