Trademark Squatting. The Washington Redskins Confronts A Squatter

Martin McCaulay saw the future coming. He suspected that the NFL franchise “Washington Redskins” will eventually replace its trademark.

In 2019, McCaulay filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) dozens of trademarks applications the team may use to substitute the racially controversial name.  He filed for “Washington Pigskins,” “Washington Bravehearts”, “Washington Monuments,” and more.

Offensive and racist brands are on their way out, even as the Supreme Court expanded the limits of free speech in trademark registrations.  We wrote a blog about this topic before. Companies are rebranding products such as Aunt Jemima and Land O Lakes for the use of stereotypes on their products, sparked by a national reckoning with racism.

“In general, trademarks are a use it or lose it proposition”

Attorney Marcos E. Garciaacosta

Trademark Squatters

The act of filing trademark applications to be offered in the future to a brand owner is called trademark squatting.

The USPTO does not favor the act of filing trademarks for squatting purposes. Squatting can bring a costly and expensive legal battle for legitimate brand owners.

Is it a Get-Rich-Quick Scheme?

Not necessarily.

According to a Yahoo news report, the intention to get the rights of dozens of potential team names was not to earn money but to accelerate the change of name for the team. Apparently, McClaylay is willing to give any of those trademarks to the team for free.

McCaulay expressed that he became sympathetic to the Native Americans displeasure for the team’s name and logo (also called “mascot”).

When confronted with a case of squatting, the USPTO may allow the mark to be contested. It is possible the mark may be canceled if the owner does not prove the trademark represents a product or service available in the real world.

“In general, trademarks are a use it or lose it proposition,” said branding expert and Intellectual Property Attorney Marcos E. Garciaacosta, “at some point before getting a registration in the USA you need to show proof that your product or service exists and it is in commerce in the country. Failure to do that will cause the registration to be refused or can get canceled”.

No word yet on the direction the owners of the Washington Redskins will take.


Marcos E. Garciaacosta specializes in business law, trademarks, intellectual property, and immigration. He files trademarks in all jurisdictions such as the United States of America with USPTO, the European Union, Mexico, China, and others.

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