A betting favorite has emerged to replace ‘Redskins’ as the new name for Washington’s NFL franchise, but although the alternative is already trademarked, there is some good news for team owner Dan Snyder: He can have it for free.
Martin McCaulay, a 61-year-old actuary from Virginia, has been registering alternatives for Washington’s football team for the last six years as a bit of a hobby. Among his current trademarks is the name ‘Redtails,’ which is the top choice being offered by online bookmakers, including BetOnline.ag, which put the odds at 3-to-1.
Furthermore, the team’s starting quarterback, Dwayne Haskins, has voiced his support for ‘Redtails,’ the nickname for the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African-American pilots who flew 1,578 combat missions for the US Army Air Forces in World War II en route to three Distinguished Unit Citations.
Fans and graphic designers have suggested a number of new names and team logos
The Tuskegee Airmen flew 1,578 combat missions for the US Army Air Forces during World War II en route to three Distinguished Unit Citations. Now their nickname, the ‘Redtails,’ is the betting favorite to become the new name for Washington’s NFL team
Captain Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr. reviews his cadets as they stand to attention at flight training school, Tuskegee, Alabama, in March 1942. Captain Davis led the Air Corps 99th Pursuit Squadron, the first American all-black combat pilot unit: the Tuskegee Airmen
But McCaulay, a casual fan who has not been contacted by the team, is not trying to sell a new name to Snyder.
Rather, he’s hoping to accommodate the change away from Redskins, which was officially dropped on Monday after decades of criticism from Native Americans and civil rights groups, who believed it to be offensive to American Indians.
‘Don’t let me stand in the way if they’re going to change the name in 2020,’ McCaulay told the Daily Mail. ‘People have been trying to get them to change the name for decades. If I can facilitate them changing the name, because they need to do it fast, I’m glad to help them do whatever I can.’
There are just two weeks until the start of training camp, and trademarking a new team name could take over a year. Even getting a response for a trademark application can take three months, according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office website.
The good news for the NFL club is that it won’t need to have a registered trademark before choosing a new name. Trademark rights arise from the legitimate use of the mark.
Martin already has several trademarks for Washington’s potential new name
McCaulay has trademarks on four possible replacement names for Washington’s NFL team, including the odds-on favorite, Redtails
Fans can bet $100 on ‘Washington Red Tails’ on Bovada’s moneyline to win a $275 profit
On Twitter, McCaulay positioned his trademarks as the easiest solution for Snyder’s team
‘Trademark rights are based on using the trademark in a public way — what we call “using the trademark in commerce,”‘ Atlanta-based trademark attorney David Lilenfeld told the Daily Mail.
‘As soon as [a team puts merchandise] on their website, and it’s for sale, it’s a trademark,’ he added.
According to the Sports Business Journal, which first reported the name change last week, the club’s quest for a new moniker has been delayed by trademark issues.
That could suggest the team is looking at ‘Red Wolves,’ a popular suggestion on social media that is currently being used by Arkansas State University and a minor league soccer team in Chattanooga.
A school spokesperson did not immediately respond to the Daily Mail’s request for comment. (McCaulay does have a trademark on the Washington Red Wolves, but only for football and not for apparel)
McCaulay has previously reached out to the Redskins, but told the Daily Mail that the team has not replied to his letters.
But if Snyder did want to challenge McCaulay’s trademark for ‘Redtails,’ or any of his other three registered names, they would easily win the legal battle so long as the team showed a bonafide intent to use the mark in question.
‘They can just apply for these names, and they don’t have to tell me,’ he said.
Former Ohio State Buckeyes star and current Washington QB Dwayne Haskins likes ‘Redtails’
McCaulay is not a trademark squatter — someone who registers a mark without any intention of using it, hoping to sell it to a person or company that does.
Rather, he began registering alternative names to the Redskins in 2014 and engaged in online retail sales related to those trademarks to bolster his legal standing.
If Snyder wants to adopt ‘Red Wolves,’ he might meet some resistance from a minor league soccer team based in Chattanooga
‘Six years ago, there was a lot of speculation that the team would need to change their name,’ said McCaulay, who never refers to the club by its former name, instead using ‘the “R” word.’
‘Some people started applying for joke names, like “Washington Redskin Potatoes” or “Washington Red Spears.” So I did that too. I applied for “Washington Pigskins.”‘
Initially, McCaulay planned on selling Pigskin merchandise.
‘I went out and bought 100 coffee mugs that said “Washington Pigskins.” And I took a picture and I put them for sale on the internet. And I applied for a registration for “Washington Pigskins” for coffee mugs.’
That got the attention of the NFL’s league office.
‘Their trademark attorneys sent me a letter, saying, “We noticed you’re trying to register “Washington Pigskins” which sounds a lot like the name of our Washington football team, but we’ll allow it.”‘
Arkansas State’s team name is also the Red Wolves, which could present a problem for Snyder
That only served to motivate McCaulay, who began registering more potential names.
But, as the years went by, his motivation to use those trademarks for commercial purposes began to fade. McCaulay gave away his Washington Pigskins mugs to charity and intended to let his registrations expire.
McCaulay does have a trademark on ‘Washington Red Wolves’ but would relinquish it if he were asked by the team
Then, amid nationwide anti-racism protests in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, there were renewed calls for the Redskins to change their name.
Soon thereafter, online bookmakers began offering wagers on the team’s new name, which caught McCaulay’s attention.
‘[My trademarks] had not expired yet, so I had a renewed interest in these, especially after I saw people betting on the new name,’ he said. ‘I was looking at these names people were betting on, and a lot of those names were mine — ones I had trademarked in 2015.’
McCaulay renewed his trademarks, applied for a few more, and currently has 14 for football teams and apparel primarily related to four names: Washington Redtails, Washington Red Hawks, Washington Americans, and Washington Renegades.
Since he no longer sells any merchandise — and because his Redtails flag football season was canceled due to coronavirus — McCaulay no longer has any legal claim to the trademarks, so Snyder would easily win any challenge.
And as McCaulay explained, there wouldn’t be any challenge from him.
‘They can contact me and say “We want to use your trademarks,” and I’d say, “OK, what do you need?”‘ he said. ‘”Do you want me to cancel it? Sign an agreement?”‘
Retired U.S. Air Force Col. Charles McGee (center), a decorated veteran of three wars, receives a congratulatory a send-off after visiting with 436 Aerial Port Squadron personnel at Dover Air Force Base to help celebrate his 100th birthday in Dover, Delaware on December 6, 2019
Cadets at the ‘Negro Training Center’ examine a map before taking off in a biplane for a training exercise. The pilots would later be known as the ‘Tuskegee Airmen.’ The cadets are (from left to right): Lieutenant John Daniels of Chicago, Cadet Clayborne Lockett of Los Angeles, Cadet Lawrence O’Clark of Chicago, Cadet William Melton of Los Angeles, and civilian instructor Milton Crenshaw of Little Rock