There are few things more important to the success of a business than intellectual property. A business needs to do everything possible to obtain and protect its trademarks and copyrights. For many businesses, trademarks are among the most important types of intellectual property, because they represent the brand’s very identity to the marketplace.
Without legal protection of a trademark, a business could be vulnerable to other companies exploiting its name and success.
The Washington Football Team
According to a recent story from the online legal periodical, JDSUPRA, the Washington Football Team (formerly known as the Washington Redskins), received a denial of its application to trademark its name. While the name is meant to be temporary until the team settles on a more permanent name, the Football Team wanted to trademark its current name.
Although the denial from the trademark office creates problems for the team, other businesses can learn some things about obtaining trademark protection from this story.
Why was the application denied?
There are two primary reasons for the denial from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”):
- A trademark cannot be generic: “Washington Football Team” is an extremely generic name for a football team. The USPTO will routinely deny applications for generic trademarks like this. When applying for trademark protection,
- A trademark must be unique: The team came up with a name that is very similar to a few other Washington sports teams that are already trademarked. If there is a chance of a name causing confusion with other names already protected in the marketplace, the USPTO will not approve the trademark application.
Of course, the USPTO will look at other factors when exploring trademark applications, but these two are significant in the USPTO’s considerations.
As a business owner or executive, make sure that you work with legal counsel with intellectual property law experience. A skilled attorney can work with you to make sure your trademark is protectable, and your application has the best possible chance of being approved.