Arthur R. Lehman, L.L.C.

Hockey team and Army in a trademark dispute

Trademarks are important to Manhattan businesses, because trademarks are a key part of how companies present themselves to the world. A unique trademark helps potential customers distinguish a company from the rest of the field. This is why companies will fight to keep their trademarks and fight to prevent others from using the same or confusingly similar marks. These worthwhile fights can be a lot more complex than some businesses bargain for. The owner of one professional hockey team has discovered this.

The U.S. Army has formally asked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to refuse to register the trademark application for the Vegas Golden Knights hockey team. The Army alleged that the Golden Knights' name and trademark are confusingly similar in sound, meaning and appearance to the Army's Golden Knights parachute team. The Army further alleged that it would suffer damages if the trademark were registered, because it would falsely suggest a connection between the National Hockey League expansion team and the Army.

The hockey team disputed the Army's allegations. In a prepared statement, the team said that it hadn't received any complaints from game attendees that they were expecting to see the parachute team instead of a hockey game.

The ironic part of the story is that the hockey team said it chose its name in a bid to avoid a trademark dispute. The team evidently had originally wanted to call themselves the Black Knights, but this is the name of the sports teams associated with the U.S. Military Academy. After receiving complaints, the team said it chose the moniker Golden Knights instead.

This just goes to show how complex it can be to secure and protect a registered trademark. It can be a great idea to get knowledgeable representation for trademark matters.

Source: The New York Times, "Vegas Golden Knights, Named to Avoid Trademark Dispute, Face Trademark Dispute," Matt Stevens, Jan. 12, 2018

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