While the Chargers are purportedly still considering whether to move to Los Angeles or remain in San Diego, we've all been desperately trying to read the tealeaves. One seemingly bad tea leaf for San Diego's chances arose this morning when it came to light that the Chargers filed two trademark applications for "LA CHARGERS" and "LOS ANGELES CHARGERS."
The applications were filed on January 14th, just two days after the Chargers received approval from the NFL owners in Houston to join Kroenke in LA. So, this surely means they're as good as gone and packing up Chargers Park as we speak, right?
No, not necessarily.
The Chargers filed intent-to-use applications instead of actual-use applications for the two marks. Such an approach is advantageous because it backdates the Chargers' federal trademark protection in the potential new name to before the team actually uses it. Ownership in the marks would otherwise attach on the date of their first use. So, assuming the intent-to-use applications are approved, the filing dates (January 14th) serve as the Chargers' date of first use of the marks, offering them protection against someone that might come along now and start slapping "LA CHARGERS" and "LOS ANGELES CHARGERS" on t-shirts and coffee mugs.
The Chargers have six months after approval to actually use the marks in the marketplace before the applications would be considered abandoned and they would lose the backdate advantage. This timeframe can be extended multiple times in six-month increments and approval of the applications can take up to three months. So, these applications could also end up serving the Chargers in the event that Spanos decides to give San Diego one more chance.
All in all, it's no surprise that the Chargers filed shortly after being approved for relocation, as it locks in that date in the event of a future move, whether in 2016 or 2017.
So, keep the lighter fluid and open flames away from your Chargers gear for the time being, San Diego.