The Washington Post Speaks to Josh Gerben About the Washington Commanders’ Trademark Refusal

The USPTO recently refused the Washington Commanders’ trademark due to an existing registration for “Commanders Classic” an annual collegiate football game. The government agency also referenced a few pending trademark applications as another reason for the refusal.

The Washington Post and Josh Gerben discussed how these refusals may affect the Commanders.

“Trademark law from a policy perspective exists to protect a consumer, not a company,” said Josh Gerben, a trademark attorney and the founder of the D.C. firm Gerben Perrott. “The idea is to protect consumers from being confused as to who’s offering the goods and services. Would the average football consumer think that the the Washington Commanders is somehow related to the Commanders’ Classic game at the college level? I think that’s a huge stretch, and I think that that would be the crux of their argument to the USPTO.”

“I think it’s a matter of time [before it’s approved],” Gerben said. “Because now you’re operating without the benefits of a federal registration and you’re a major football team.”

Gerben said that none of the owners of any of the registrations the USPTO cited in its denial could make a “realistic argument” the team shouldn’t be able to use the name, and “nothing about this finding by the USPTO would require they change the name.”

Source: Jhabvala, Nicki. “The Commanders’ name trademark hit a snag. Some fans want a do-over.” 25 May 2023.

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