A 61-year-old Alexandria actuary may very well be sitting on the trademark for the Washington NFL team's future moniker. And yet, he doesn't even want any money for it. He simply wants to see a name change.
Martin McCaulay has been collecting trademarks since 2014, when he first began hearing talks that the team name might change.
"A lot of people were applying for trademarks for joke names, like Washington R-word potatoes, or Washington Skins," McCaulay said. "I applied for Washington Pigskins. My understanding is that you can't apply for a trademark without intending to use it."
McCaulay got right to work, ordering 100 coffee mugs emblazoned with "Washington Pigskins" and posted them online to sell. A Washington Post profile of McCaulay from 2015 detailed "his stockpile of make-believe football team memorabilia" ranging from kitchenware to clothing and foam fingers.
McCaulay said he's applied for so many trademarks in six years that he's lost count. A search for McCaulay's address on the United States Patent and Trademark Office website brings up 47 trademarks, including 14 abandoned requests, dating back to May 2, 2014. His requests range from the Washington Sharks and Pandas to the Warriors, Senators, Federals, Founders, Natives, Gladiators and even the Washington Football Club.
According to McCaulay trademarks expire after six years, meaning many of his 2014 projects have either expired or are set to soon.
"I had no intention of renewing them, as most of them have not been in use for years," McCaulay said. "If anybody had to go to court to defend these trademarks it would be impossible. These are the most indefensible trademarks anyone could imagine. But then I started seeing the names suggested and they looked familiar, because they were names I had trademarked in 2015."
When McCaulay looked at the odds board and saw his names were favored, he submitted fresh trademark applications. But since he needed to apply with an intent to use, he submitted requests for flag football leagues under names he'd already trademarked.
Most recently McCaulay applied for Washington Red Wolves, Redtails, Monuments, Veterans, Americans, Renegades and Red-Tailed Hawks.
"There are four of them that would make good replacement names if the football team wanted to use them," McCaulay said. "So I reached out to them on July 4 with an email subject line 'Free Trademarks' and I said you can have any of these trademarks for free."
He said he has not yet had any contact with the Washington team, and noted that it takes three months after a trademark application before the attorneys at the trademark office will review.
McCaulay believes four of his trademarks are valuable to the Washington NFL team as they cover both clothing and a football team: Washington Americans, Washington Renegades, Washington Redtails and Washington Redhawks.
"If I had the trademark for apparel but somebody beat me to it for an application for football games, the team would need to make arrangements with two people instead of just me," McCaulay said. "I want them to change the name and they said a trademark issue is holding it up. I thought they were talking about the Arkansas State Red Wolves, but maybe they were talking about me. I am not going to be an obstacle for changing the name prior to the first game of the 2020 season."
McCaulay declined to share how much he has spent over the years on trademark fees but said the cost of each trademark is less than the cost of attending a football game and takes him five minutes.
A lifelong fan of the team, McCaulay said he's always felt a name change was needed.
"That name is pretty insensitive to Native Americans, I'm just surprised it took them this long to realize it," McCaulay said. "I went to one game last year ... in Miami when it was the battle of the winless teams. But I did not want to go there in an R-word shirt, so I wore aquamarine and kept my mouth that I was rooting for us to win."
McCaulay's personal favorite for a rebrand would be the Washington Pandas, but given the unlikelihood of that choice, he favors Washington Redtails.