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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Trademark Controversy in Sports

For years the Spanish speaking community has been pronouncing the Los Angeles baseball team The Dodgers as “Los Doyers.” The mispronunciation turned nickname has gained massive popularity and found its way on to many hats, bandannas and t-shirts in the Los Angeles area.

Products carrying the Los Doyers emblem have been sold exclusively by local street venders and merchandisers until, in August of 2010, the Los Angeles Dodgers, LLC filed two applications for trademark of the mark Los Doyers. The Dodgers subsequently began sending out cease and desist letters to retailers of the merchandise who had been enjoying healthy profits form the sale of Los Doyers merchandise.

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Another similar situation resulted from the rise in popularity of the New Orleans Saints. When the Saints won the NFL’s Super Bowl in 2010, the phrase became even more popular and a controversy arose over who had the rights to ‘Who Dat’.

The phrase came from a chant – “Who dat say they gon beat the Saints” – and has been a mainstay at the Superdome since the 1980’s. Two brothers and longtime Saints fans claim they own the only federal trademark of the phrase and are also the owners of WhoDat Inc. Many credit the 1983 song titled Who Dat with creation of the popular name but its use has been traced back to the minstrel shows of the 1930's.

Despite the fan backlash and the unknown origins of the phrase, the NFL has implemented an aggressive cease and desist campaign claiming they own the rights to the trademark.

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