Just when you thought the naming saga of Las Vegas’ NHL franchise was over, it isn’t.
The NHL’s 31st team revealed themselves as the Vegas Golden Knights on November 22nd. This came after their owner Bill Foley wanted to choose the name ‘Black Knights’ but didn’t, because of pushback from his alma mater, Army West Point Black Knights.
The team also chose not to go with the name ‘Knights’ to avoid complications with the London Knights of the OHL.
After all that, you’d think that the name chosen would be ironclad. It appears it isn’t.
A week after the name and logo launch, US Army said they were reviewing the name. Their parachute team also goes by the name Golden Knights.
And now, the US government has denied a trademark request by the NHL franchise because of similarities with the College of Saint Rose Golden Knights.
— ThaSportsJunkies101® (@TSJ_Sports) December 8, 2016
If at this point you’re saying “wait a minute, there’s tons of pro sports teams with the same name and nobody seems to have a problem with it,” you’re not alone.
“There are countless examples of college sports teams and professional sports teams with coexisting names, including Vegas Golden Knights and Clarkson Golden Knihgts, UCLA Bruins and Boston Bruins, U of Miami Hurricanes and Carolina Hurricanes, etc. We will plan on making these arguments and others in our detailed written response to the office action which must be filed by June 7, 2017.
“Office actions like this are not at all unusual, and we will proceed with the help of outside counsel in preparing a response to this one.”
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly also released this statement on Thursday:
“We are currently reviewing the Trademark Office’s letter and will prepare a detailed response demonstrating why we continue strongly to believe the Vegas Golden Knights mark should be registered in co-existence with the college registration, just as a number of other nicknames currently co-exist in professional and college sports (particularly where there is no overlap as to the sport for which the nickname is being used). That response is not due until June 7, 2017.
“We consider this a routine matter and it is not our intention to reconsider the name or logo of this franchise. We fully intend to proceed as originally planned, relying on our common law trademark rights as well as our state trademark registrations while we work through the process of addressing the question raised in the federal applications.”
So for now, it remains to be seen if Vegas will get to keep their name. One would assume that worst case scenario involves them paying the College of Saint Rose a fee, rather than finding a new ____ Knights name.
This isn’t the first time that a pro franchise has had legal troubles after the launch of a new franchise name/logo. After being awarded an NFL team in 1993, the Jacksonville Jaguars had to change their original logo, because of its resemblance to the logo for Jaguar cars.
When the CFL expanded to Baltimore in 1994, their owners called the team the “Baltimore CFL Colts”. They lost a court battle to the NFL, and the team was commonly known as the Baltimore CFLers for a while until they eventually chose the name “Stallions”.