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Golden Knights Formally Respond To Denied Trademark With USPTO

On December 7th, the Vegas Golden Knights trademark was denied by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) because of “likelihood of confusion” with the College of St. Rose Golden Knights.

There are countless examples of college sports teams and professional sports teams with coexisting names including the UCLA Bruins and Boston Bruins, University 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 7th, 2017. -Team Statement on December 7th

That statement, which consists of 1347 pages of argument, examples, and exhibits, has been prepared and sent to the USPTO for review. (If you feel like going through the whole thing, it can be found here.)

The response cites four reasons as to why “Vegas Golden Knights mark is not likely to be confused” with the College of St. Rose Golden Knights.

(1) sports fans (and the general public) have long been accustomed to distinguishing between unrelated sports teams using the same or similar nicknames and trademarks;

(2) more specifically, sports fans (and the general public) have long been accustomed to distinguishing between GOLDEN KNIGHTS and KNIGHTS marks for sporting events;

(3) sports fans, by their very nature, are knowledgable about the games they choose to watch and attend; and

(4) the parties’ marks differ materially in appearance, sound and commercial impression.

The response goes on to give hundreds of examples from the Arizona Coyotes and University of South Dakota Coyotes sharing name, to comparing 22 different trademarks with the word “knights,” to even citing an erotic movie theatre that shares its name with a family movie theatre (Mini Cinema).

For all of the reasons set forth above, Applicant respectfully requests that the refusal to register on the basis of likelihood of conclusion be withdrawn and that the subject application be approved for publication.

So now, the USPTO will review the response, and will make a decision whether they will overturn the refusal and grant the Vegas Golden Knights their trademark, or uphold their original decision and continue to refuse the trademark based on likelihood of confusion with the College of St. Rose Golden Knights.

In the event the decision is not reversed, all is not completely lost for the Vegas NHL franchise, and they will not necessarily have to change their team name. A “trademark coexistence agreement” could be reached between St. Rose and Vegas.

In other words, The Creator would essentially have to pay off the College of St. Rose to allow them to use the name Golden Knights legally.

As far as the timeline goes, the initial trademark was filed to the USPTO on August 23rd, 2016. The denial letter came in on December 7th, 2016. We can expect this process to take as long, if not longer, leading us likely into the beginning of the inaugural season with the Vegas Golden Knights trademark not officially approved.

***

Because the Vegas Golden Knights organization was basically raked over the coals for the first denial letter, I believe it’s only fair if I point out the humanness of the USPTO attorney that issued the denial letter.

In the first sentence of the denial letter received on December 7th the attorney states the reason for refusal of the trademark is because of likelihood of confusion with U.S. Registration mark numbers 4325030 and 4325031. Those are meant to reference the existing trademarks for the College of St. Rose Golden Knights. One problem… those mark numbers are for the Syracuse Silver Knights.

Because of this mistake, the response letter sent by the attorney representing the Vegas Golden Knights had to include a special note at the bottom of the very first page.

Applicant notes that, in the Office action dated December 7, 2016, the Examining Attorney appears to have erroneously cited to U.S. Registration Nos. 4325030 (SYRACUSE SILVER KNIGHTS & Design) and 4325031 (SYRACUSE SILVER KNIGHTS). However, as the remainder of the Office action and its exhibits make it clear that the Examining Attorney intended to refer to the Cited Registration, Applicant has responded accordingly.

In the end, it’s a harmless mistake by a guy who had to prepare a 164 page letter to say “no,” but the fact remains, this denial based on the “likelihood of confusion” was a decision made by a single person at the USPTO. Before you continue to kill the Vegas NHL franchise likely to eventually be named the Vegas Golden Knights over what appears to have been a major misstep in trademark research, realize when it’s all said and done, it could be this attorney who made the mistake, not The Creator, the NHL, and everyone involved with the initial submission.

Again, I’m not a trademark attorney, and this stuff tends to get way above my head quickly, but I’m just recommending to exercise patience here. There will be plenty of time to absolutely crush them if they have to change the name, but until that moment, hold back, it will probably keep you from looking like an idiot if the trademark does indeed get approved.

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24 Comments

  1. PhiSig 150

    I think a big distinction is that the above mentioned names/mascots are actually cool while Golden Knights is f’n lame. Not sure if this has any legal bearing though. Always felt trademark would eventually hold up in court but I still contend the name is stupid more specifically the adjective. Foley should just paid what it took to get No Adjective Knights. Las Vegas Knights sounds a thousand times classier and most likely would have avoided a trademark snag.

  2. A Fan

    Most of us will end up calling them the Knights anyway. This whole Black Knights, Golden Knights name was a mistake from the beginning. Since we season ticket holders never got the Name The Team contest that we were promised by Mr. Foley, maybe we should have a ‘mock contest’ just like they have mock drafts. C’mon Ken, you can do it. Or would you be concerned you may piss of The Creator?

    I’m in for the Las Vegas Mustangs. A wild horse in the NV desert, that come to think of it is slowly being wiped out by our gov’t to give all of the grazing rights to cattle ranchers who “contribute” to electing politicians. I guess the horses didn’t ‘pony’ up enough corrupt money. Never mind.

    • PhiSig 150

      Mustangs could have worked. Not my top 5 but still better than Golden Knights. If he would have gone with just Knights it’s probably generic enough to not be challenged. I think the stupid Golden addon is what caused this mess (yes mess we’re still talking about it over 6 moths later). I would imagine it be like Eagles would be ok Golden Eagles maybe not because of Boston College. Foley will keep his crap name but until the copyright is settled we have every right to bitch about it. For the record Vegas Venom, Las Vegas Scorepions (misspelling intentional) Las Vegas Battle Born, Las Vegas Night Owls, Las Vegas Luck all better choices in my opinion.

  3. Ron Murphy

    Still hanging on to “Scorpions “…defensive animal?…try cornering a scorpion and watch what it does…CHARGE!!!!!!….and of course the obviously cool logo possibilities

    • PhiSig 150

      Change the spelling to Scorepions. Now they’re on the offensive. Boom problem solved. If we can have the Beatles why not the Scorepions?

  4. RJ

    I’m still holding out hope that this results in a name change. Dear god that name is UNSPEAKABLY BAD. I know we are stuck with it, but I hate it so gosh dang much.

    • PhiSig 150

      The name is that old would that every couple of months gets ripped back open and doused with salt. Thanks Ken. Just glad we took the extra time to make absolutely sure the name was 100% vetted.

  5. Jeff

    Agree with above name is bad but I do not see a voluntary change at all. I for one would be shocked if the usgov pissed on St. Rose’s TM those example given did not factor like this one and are meaningless imo. St Rose has a TM for a reason, this is it.
    Stating this team and that team co exist does not factor in the TM and St Roses objection, period. Any decision should factor this. God willing we get our Desert Knight! Like 80% of people wanted but that fell on deaf and selfish ears.

    • PhiSig 150

      Well if it absolutely had to be Knights then no adjective Knights would have been the best option (I understand there’s an issue in Canada to work out but apparently there’s one now in the US) If you have to add a dumb adjective then Dessert was the least horrible or the shitty options. Still think Foley screwed the pooch by not opening the name to the public as promised and the ongoing trademark issues is just deserved karma.

    • PC

      Trademarks only protect “likelihood of confusion”. Just because the two names are the same doesn’t mean they will be confused. Hence the 1300+ page response. Much to all of your dismay, Golden Knights are staying the Golden Knights. Ether the USPTO will reverse course or Foley will pay up for the name.

      *I am an attorney and although I’m not a trademark attorney I have done them in the past.

      • Phisig150

        Name stays of course. Foley should have made a St Rose charitable donation months ago. Foley is horrible at picking names wouldn’t be surprised if his kids were named Dweezil and Moon Unit

  6. Golden Knights Fan

    The name is only beloved by the creator, true. But GET. OVER. IT. Geeze.

    • Phisig150

      Hard to get over it when the name problems are still popping up over 6 months later. I was over it then this reminded me and I got pissed about it again.

  7. Dwayne Lucyk

    Hang in there Vegas fans. 5 more years to wait, Golden will be dropped and the name will change to Nevada Knights (just like Phoenix changed to Arizona). I am a Canadian and the Golden colour adjective bugs me, too, and I can’t get over it for some strange reason. siLVer should have been the colour instead of gOLDen. It probably still bugs me because Golden State Warriors are in the news and so are the defunct Golden Seals making headlines. Golden is reserved for California teams. I will say it for the last time, siLVer is the appropriate colour for Nevada teams. I just ordered my Vegas jersey today through the company I work for, for winning a sales contest and I will officially become a Knights fan when I get it and wear it in September.

    • Can we bet on this?

      If it’s Nevada Knights in 2022 I’ll give you a pair of tickets to a game.

      If it’s Vegas Golden Knights in 2022, you buy me a 24 pack of Dr. Pepper.

      • Phisig150

        You’re on except put me down for Las Vegas Knights and lets say 2025.

  8. Dwayne Lucyk

    OK Ken but you are short changing yourself. I will double your offer to a pair of 24 packs should you win to make it more fair to match the pair of tickets that I would win. We have enough witnesses. If you win, you will be able to track me down in Summerlin, probably at the practice centre playing old timers or shinny hockey. My intention is to move to Summerlin from Edmonton, within a few years, sooner the better, to escape winter, as a Canadian Snowbird for 6 months, during the hockey season, until I can figure out a way for my wife and I to become permanent residents. Say, maybe you can sponsor us ha ha or know of a way lol. I did not order a VGN authentic Adidas jersey to wear it in Edmonton, but I will until we move.

  9. A Fan

    I hope they don’t dumb it down even more taking VEGAS or LAS VEGAS out and replace it with Nevada. Terrible idea. If Knights is to stay then wise up and do what they should have from the beginning then: Las Vegas Knights. Las Vegas Mustangs is better than the 5 that Phil mentioned and I was always on board for the Las Vegas Scorpions, really surprised when that or Aces didn’t end up being the name. (I know I know, Aces, gambling, etc.)

    • Phisig150

      Forgot about Aces that’s probably the best one. They’ll never take Vegas out of the name, No chance. But I am predicting Las will be added and Golden will be dropped within 10 years

      • A Fan

        I agree. Especially if Mr. Foley is out of the picture for some reason. It will end up being the Las Vegas Knights. A lot of people will call them that now, either by choice or even by mistake. A change will happen at some point. Hopefully sooner than later.

  10. Cappy

    The who?

  11. Mcfreelv

    Can’t do Nevada in the name, because half the people will pronounce it wrong and I’ll have to cut a bitch.

  12. Dwayne Lucyk

    If an NFL team like the Cardinals can change their city name to their state name, then anything can happen. Does anybody know why Arizona did it? Surely, it wasn’t because the Coyotes did it. The reverse happened for the Edmonton Oilers. They entered the NHL as the Alberta Oilers and ended up changing to the city name when their provincial rival Calgary got the team from Atlanta.

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