How the Washington Football Team is Likely Securing a Trademark for its New Team Name

One of the most talked about sports topic these days is surrounding the upcoming reveal of Washington Football Team’s new name in early February. While everyone speculates as to what the new name will be, what we can agree on is that it’s likely that the team has already filed a trademark application for its new name.

The question is where was it filed?

How the WFT can use the Paris Convention to hide its trademark filings.

Did you know that the Washington Football Team could file a trademark application for its new name in 1 of 178 different countries and still obtain priority on the trademark here in the United States?

This scenario is possible due to a treaty called the Paris Convention. In total, 178 countries world-wide have signed this treaty.

This treaty makes it possible for a company to file a trademark in any 1 of the 178 member countries, and then also file the same mark in any of the other countries within 6 months and receive the priority date from the original filing.

A recent example of this was when Cleveland’s MLB team used the Paris Convention to secure a trademark for its new team name, Cleveland Guardians.

In April 2021, the team filed a trademark application for “CLEVELAND GUARDIANS” in a tiny, remote, island nation known as the Republic of Mauritius.

This application went unnoticed until the new team name was announced in July 2021. The baseball team subsequently filed trademark applications with the USPTO and used the April priority date from its filings in Mauritius.

So how does a trademark application go unnoticed in today’s world?

A number of “Paris Convention” countries do not allow the public access to search their online trademark databases. This makes it nearly impossible to find any trademark filings that are made in those countries.

The strategy of “hiding trademark filings” in tiny remote countries has become very common in the past 10 years. The tactic is often used by large companies who are trying to conceal information surrounding product or service launches, while still ensuring that they will receive priority for the registration.

So at this time, in a tiny country’s trademark office, there likely sits a trademark application for the Washington Football Team’s new name, however, it’s highly unlikely that it could be found before the announcement. Guess we will all just have to wait and see.

Countries that are signatories to the Paris Convention

*As of January 2022.

Afghanistan Albania Algeria
Andorra Angola Antiqua & Barbuda
Argentina Armenia Australia
Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas
Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados
Belarus Belgium Belize
Benin Bhutan Bolivia
Bosnia & Herzegovina Botswana Brazil
Brunei Bulgaria Burkina Faso
Burundi Cambodia Cameroon
Canada Central African Republic Chad
Chile China Colombia
Comoros Congo, Democratic Republic Congo, Republic
Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia
Cuba Cyprus Czech Republic
Denmark Djibouti Dominica
Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt
El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Estonia
Finland France Gabon
Gambia Georgia Germany
Ghana Greece Grenada
Guatemala Guinea Guinea-Bissau
Guyana Haiti Holy See (Vatican City) 
Honduras Hong Kong, China Hungary
Iceland India Indonesia
Iran Iraq Ireland
Israel Italy Jamaica
Japan Jordan Kazakhstan
Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic
Korea, Republic Kuwait Kyrgyzstan
Laos Latvia Lebanon
Lesotho Liberia Libya
Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg
Macau, China Macedonia Madagascar
Malawi Malaysia Mali
Malta Mauritania Mauritius
Mexico Moldova Monaco
Mongolia Montenegro Morocco
Mozambique Nambia Nepal
Netherlands New Zealand Nicaragua
Niger Nigeria Norway
Oman Pakistan Panama
Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru
Philippines Poland Portugal
Qatar Romania Russian Federation
Rwanda Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia
St. Vincent & Grenadines Samoa San Marino
Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal
Serbia Seychelles Sierra leone
Singapore Slovakia Slovenia
South Africa Spain Sri Lanka
Sudan Suriname Swaziland
Sweden Switzerland Syria
Tajikistan Tanzania Thailand
Togo Tonga Trinidad and Tobago
Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan
Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom United States of America Uruguay
Uzbekistan Venezuela Vietnam
Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe

Josh Gerben, Esq.

Josh Gerben, Esq. is the founder and principal of Gerben IP. In 2008, Mr. Gerben started the firm to provide high-quality trademark services at reasonable prices. Today, he is recognized by the World Trademark Review as a top trademark filer, having registered over 7,500 trademarks. The contents of this blog are for informational purposes only and may not be relied on as legal advice.

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