Washington NFL Team Punts on RedWolves Citing Trademark Issues

January 5, 2022 – Media Mention
Bloomberg Law

Barry Werbin, counsel in Herrick's Intellectual Property Group, spoke to Bloomberg Law about The Washington Football Team's upcoming February 2nd announcement of a new nickname. In anticipation of the release date, the team reported that it had narrowed down its options to eight names, including "RedWolves," which quickly became a fan favorite online. However, all names with "Wolves" were ruled out due to potential trademark issues. In a press release, the NFL team stated, "Once we began looking into Wolves, however, we became aware of a notable challenge: trademarks held by other teams would limit our ability to make the name our own. And without Wolves, variations like RedWolves wouldn’t have been viable either for these and other reasons[.]"

Barry explained that this decision "makes sense because possible trademark registrations for every aspect of the team’s marketing, merchandise, and sports services must clear trademark searches... numerous existing Wolves-based marks registered for sports-related goods and services could impede various WFT applications," citing marks held by the Minnesota Timberwolves or its affiliate Iowa Wolves as examples.

Barry added, "Even though the fan base may overwhelmingly have desired WOLVES or RED WOLVES, that desire has to give way to a legal trademark opinion, which clearly in this case threw in the monkey wrench to kill that first choice, understandably," adding, "I think the team released this video so its fan base would understand better why the team could not go with this popular naming choice, and I think it’s a smart, creative, marketing move on their part."

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