An Arlington man plans to cash in on the Washington Redskins name change, CBS News reported. For several years, he’s filed numerous trademarks for team names to sell to team owner Dan Snyder. Patent law protects many kinds of intellectual property.
According to CBS News, when the Washington Redskins football team changes its name, the cheering may not be limited to the stadium.
“One prescient Virginia man is hoping to cash in on the change, having filed dozens of trademark claims for possible new names since 2014,” the article said. “A search by CBS News in the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s database found at least seven names that have been registered in just the last month alone. The idea, presumably, would be to sell the name to [Washington Redskins owner Dan] Snyder should Washington choose one of the registered names.”
Part of starting a business involves understanding intellectual property rights. A major part of that is being acquainted with patent law, including alternative protections like trademarks and copyrights.
What’s in a Name?
Intellectual property mostly involves something that someone creates. Whether it’s a company logo, the manuscript for a book, a new kind of adjustable wrench, or even a new crossbred species of plant, it can be considered intellectual property and it can be protected under a series of laws in the United States. When it comes to NFL names, the type of protection the creator would seek is called a trademark.
“Trademarks are names and logos that you see for companies, products, and services,” said Dr. Michael G. Goldsby, Stoops Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship and Executive Director of the Entrepreneurship Center in the Miller College of Business at Ball State University.
“More specifically, a provision in Title 15 of the U.S. Code states that trademarks are any word, name, symbol, or device that identifies the goods or services of one entity from the goods or services of another in interstate commerce. So what this law is saying is that you can file for exclusive trademark protection on a logo or name throughout the country.”
So That’s What That Means
Dr. Goldsby said that if you file for a trademark and are granted one, “your logo or name is given the symbol TM to go with it.” He also said that filing a trademark is easy and doesn’t cost nearly as much money as a full patent, which can range up to $15,000.
“And you’d be amazed at all the things that are trademarked,” he said. “Not only are logos and company names viable items to be trademarked; catchphrases, slogans, and taglines are all fair game. For example, the NBA basketball coach Pat Riley made a small fortune when he trademarked the catch phrase ‘three-peat.’
“Every time that catch phrase is put on a T-shirt, Pat gets a royalty on it.”
Dr. Goldsby said that a trademark can really help set your business apart from a competitor’s, and that you can keep the rights to it forever, as long as you continue to pay the government the registration fees.
Dr. Michael G. Goldsby contributed to this article. Dr. Goldsby is the Stoops Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship and Executive Director of the Entrepreneurship Center in the Miller College of Business at Ball State University. He earned his undergraduate degree in Business Economics and Public Policy from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, his master’s degree in Economics from Indiana State University, and his doctorate in Strategic Management and Business Ethics from the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University