Man says he offered NFL dozens of free trademarks for possible DC team names

Martin McCaulay talks about dozens of trademarks he offered the NFL for free.

July 17, 2020, 7:35 PM

Since Monday, when the NFL's Washington, D.C., franchise announced it would drop its name and logo, questions have swirled over the forthcoming rebrand for the football team.

In the wake of a national reckoning over race, the team is now in the process of selecting a new name to replace the long-controversial Redskins, a racist description of Native Americans.

Philip Martin McCaulay, 61, an actuary from Virginia, joined ABC News Live to explain how his hobby of applying and registering for trademarks could be just the ticket the team needs to a new name.

"You can call me the trademark hog," McCaulay said. "This is a very expensive hobby."

"I started this six years ago as a joke," he explained. "I thought it would be funny to get a trademark for the name Washington Pigskins. I applied and the NFL trademark attorneys wrote me and told me they were aware of my application and that [it] sounded a lot like the name of the Washington football team, but they would allow it."

Once he got the league's response, McCaulay said his excitement was a catalyst to register for even more names. He has applied for 44 names, though not all have been accepted, at $275 per application.

McCaulay said he holds dozens of registered trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from 2015 for the following alternatives for the D.C.-based NFL organization: the Washington Veterans, Americans, Monuments, Federals, Renegades, Founders, Football Clubs, Pigskins or Red Tailed Hawks.

"I was just going to let them expire" as the six-year time limit neared, he said, but then he heard chatter of a possible name change and decided to reach out to the NFL.

PHOTO: Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder walks the sidelines during an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, in Philadelphia.
Redskins branded merchandise sits on display in a sports store in Sterling, VA, July 13, 2020.
Leah Millis/Reuters

On July 4, McCaulay said he wrote to the NFL after the league announced it was going to review the name.

"I sent an email, because the NFL trademark attorneys had contacted me five years earlier about Pigskins," McCaulay said. "I wrote them an email with the subject line 'Free Trademarks.' I listed all those registered trademarks, and I said, 'You can use these for free.'"

"I thought, 'I have registered trademarks. I'm not going to renew these. I thought the team might like to use one.' So they were offered free trademarks, and they did not respond," McCaulay said of the NFL.

McCaulay said he reached out again and asked, "Do you want me to pay you to take these trademarks off my hands?"

"I had to reach into my own pocket and pay a $400 an hour trademark attorney to contact the team and tell them I had the trademarks that they can have for free," he said.

Now, McCaulay has requested that the NFL "make a charity contribution to the American Indian Graduate Center and a contribution to the unrecognized tribal communities."

ABC News has reached out to the NFL for comment.

McCaulay has also faced some backlash from critics who say he's held up the name-changing process. He responded on Twitter.

While McCaulay said it "would be nice to be reimbursed for this $400 an hour attorney" he reiterated that "these were free 10 days before they changed the name, and that's still the offer."

"I think they should take my offer because then they would have a registered trademark in place," he added.

He said he was "oblivious to some controversy about me and trademarks."

"A lot of fans would like to name [them] Washington Red Wolves, and Arkansas State has a Red Wolves and also a Chattanooga soccer team is called the Red Wolves," he said.

He said that he has yet to hear back from the team or the NFL but suggested possible next steps.

"They can just apply for all the trademarks using one of my names and apply for it. That doesn't even show up in front of a trademark attorney's desk for three months. So, anytime between then and three months, they can contact my attorney and tell me what do I need to do. I do not want to be an obstacle," he said.

Of all his trademarks, McCaulay said his top pick for the new name would be the "Washington Pandas."