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.
|Antiqua & Barbuda
|Bosnia & Herzegovina
|Central African Republic
|Congo, Democratic Republic
|Holy See (Vatican City)
|Hong Kong, China
|Korea, Democratic People’s Republic
|Papua New Guinea
|Saint Kitts and Nevis
|St. Vincent & Grenadines
|Sao Tome and Principe
|Trinidad and Tobago
|United Arab Emirates
|United States of America