NFL: JAN 13 NFC Divisional Playoff Falcons at Eagles

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The National Football League may be looking to expand or just acquire more intellectual property. Last week, the NFL filed for a trademark application in order to obtain exclusive rights to the Duluth Eskimos, a defunct franchise that played in the 1926 and 1927 seasons.

Trademark attorney Josh Gerben provided analysis for the filing, though confirmed through an NFL statement that no team will be using the name in the upcoming 2019-20 season. Gerben points out in his writings that the NFL’s use of language could have been confusing in what they were planning to do:

“What this language means, in the trademark world, is this is the name of a football team,” Gerben explains. “And in order for a trademark application to ultimately register, you must use the trademark for the services identified in the application. So it would be very odd for the NFL to have put this language in the application and not intend to actually have a team playing a game under this name.”

Instead, the name will be used as a way to commemorate the NFL’s 100-year anniversary. For those unfamiliar with the brief history of the franchise, the Eskimos were founded as the “Duluth Kelleys” in 1923 in Duluth, Minn. The team would play only one home game in their final season in Duluth as an emphasis on traveling teams took place during the late 1920s.

League spokesman Brian McCarthy further elaborated on the trademark and what its future use entails:

“As part of the league’s 100th season, the team will look to celebrate and salute early football in the state of Minnesota,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy wrote in an email statement. “There are some team plans for promotional and content opportunities,” but he said there are no plans to wear the jerseys or change their name.

Problems could arise for the trademark as Canadian Football League’s Edmonton Eskimos have a trademark for the term “Eskimos,” as reported by Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk.