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One Trademark Approved, One Suspended: Golden Knights Will Not Be Forced To Change Name

On December 7th, 2016 the Vegas Golden Knights received notice that their trademark application had been denied by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) due to the likelihood of confusion with the College of St. Rose Golden Knights. On June 6th, 2017, the Vegas Golden Knights responded in a 1,347-page document citing hundreds of examples explaining why they believe there is not a likelihood of confusion.

Unfortunately, for the Vegas Golden Knights, that response was still not fully compelling enough for the USPTO, but it was good enough to end the “will they change the name” drama. The Vegas Golden Knights filed two trademarks, one for “entertainment services, namely, professional ice hockey exhibitions” and another for “clothing.” The first was approved, the second was not.

This means the team name is exclusively trademarked when used for hockey games, and more importantly, confirms the team will not have to change their name. The clothing trademark, on the other hand, was suspended meaning the Golden Knights still do not own the exclusive rights to print the name on gear.

The examining attorney has carefully considered the applicant’s arguments and evidence, but has found the arguments unpersuasive.  –USPTO Trademark Suspension Notice

Their main reasoning has to do with the fact that Golden Knights is two words, not one.

The examining attorney notes that within the applicant’s chart of third-party sports-related marks, there is no overlap like the kind at issue here; a number of “BEARS,” “BRUINS,” “DUCKS,” “GIANTS,” and “PANTHERS” (and others) co-exist using different geographic terms to help distinguish them, but the applicant has not provided examples of team names consisting of two words marks.  For example, while there may be several “DUCKS,” there is only one “MIGHTY DUCKS.”  Notably, while there are many “KNIGHTS” on the register, there is only one “GOLDEN KNIGHTS” for use in connection with apparel. -USPTO Trademark Suspension Notice

So, what does it all mean?

The Golden Knights will not be forced to change their name as they hold the exclusive trademark when it comes to use as a hockey team.  The clothing trademark, however, remains in limbo. As of now, it has been “suspended” meaning there will be another round of legal arguments before any other judgment is made. Until this happens, they are not fully protected against others using the name Golden Knights on clothing.

Regardless, the lingering issue is of only limited importance as it does not bar the team from using the name “Golden Knights” or from claiming common-law trademark rights in the name through its continued use. The team is already selling hats, T-shirts, jerseys and a variety of other apparel and fan merchandise with the “Golden Knights” name. –Zachary Zagger, Law360.com

Wikipedia tells us the difference between the rights held for a registered trademark and a “common-law” trademark are rather minimal. Registered trademark holders can sue for damages against those who are infringing on their trademark, while “common-law” holders can only file to have those misrepresenting their brand to cease and desist, and in some cases only in limited geographical areas.

Either way, SinBin.vegas still cannot print a shirt using the Golden Knights name and logos and get away with it.

We are pleased with the progress in the Trademark Office as the trademark application process continues. -Vegas Golden Knights team spokesperson

All in all, the good news is the trademark story is pretty much over as the Golden Knights are officially the Vegas Golden Knights in terms of entertaining us. The bad news is, they still don’t have all the trademarks filed and we’re going to have to keep our eyes on this as the College of St. Rose could choose to make the clothing end a bit messy if they please.

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13 Comments

  1. RJ

    Can someone remind me, why didn’t we go with the single word Knights?

  2. Brando

    @ RJ

    The London Knights in the OHL. Vegas Knights would’ve been shot down immediately; I guess Foley & Co. thought that College of St. Rose was either too small or assumed that the “hockey entertainment” moniker was enough to differentiate themselves. Everyone calls them the “Knights” anyway (just like we all said “Ducks” when they were “Mighty”, or “Leafs” for the “Maple Leafs”), so ultimately it doesn’t matter what they decided on, the “Golden” is extra nice touch because it hearkens to the State’s history and reputation (not to mention it is a stunning high-lighting color on the jerseys and merch!)

    • PhiSig 150

      Nevada is the Silver State and unless your livelihood is tied directly into gold mining no one that lives in the state really cares about our gold mining industry. We would have had United States rights to Knights and I’m sure for a fee something could have been worked out with the Canadian rights. Las Vegas Knights would have a much better reception so it would have been money well spent. That is if it absolutely had to be Knight related so he can set up a West Coast West Point. He could have endeared himself to locals had he involved the community in the naming process and gone with something that had a local connection. Look at the positive reaction to both the name and logo for the 51s’ recent Latino themed alternates. It not like we set out to hate the name no matter what.

      • A Fan

        As others are saying, no one thinks of Nevada as ‘Golden,’ only Mr. Foley. If he had to have the ‘Knights’ name, again as been mentioned on here a million times in the past, the team name should have been the ‘Las Vegas Knights.’ A much better ‘Knight’ name and that’s what they’ll be called anyway, the Knights. Kind of glad it’s biting them in the butt a bit, karma maybe. Thanks for the name the team contest. Oh that’s right…

    • RJ

      I really, REALLY wish people would stop telling me the Golden adjective is somehow tied to my state history. Yes, I know, Nevada mines a lot of gold. We mine all sorts of stuff. Why not Magmesium Knights? Or Lithium Knights? The only mineral that is notable to Nevada is silver. As a matter of fact it is CALIFORNIA (where many of our rivals play) that is the Golden State. Silver Knights (or something non-knight related?) would have been a great name, that tied to our state history, and we wouldn’t have any copyright issues.

      The only one on Nevada with history to the Golden Knight name is Foley. It is some Army thing in North Carolina. Actually I take that back, Foley is a Montanan, not a Nevadan.

  3. pfh64

    Still say it should have been Rat Pack.

  4. Mark Schmidt

    First… Drop the Golden. Second…. Add Las… Voila…. Las Vegas Knights.
    Wow… That was difficult. Only drunk SoCal people call our city “Vegas”.

  5. JMO

    “Unfortunately, for the Vegas Golden Knights, that response was still not fully compelling enough for the USPTO, but it was good enough to end the “will they change the name” drama. ”

    WRONG!

    “All in all, the good news is the trademark story is pretty much over as the Golden Knights are officially the Vegas Golden Knights in terms of entertaining us. ”

    AND WRONG AGAIN!

    Let me explain the issues and why you are wrong Ken.

    Firstly the suspension of the one is horrible news and now opens up their name/mark to mass copyright infringement, legally!

    It is also counter productive to be told you can use your name (get to that in a second) but cannot protect it on merchandising.

    Now the matter of you being dead wrong, twice! As quoted above they are NOT allowed to use the name for hockey, YET, it is up for publication and guess what Ken, it can still be challenged, by Army, St. Rose, whomever.

    At this point they got CRUSHED by the uspto and have a slim chance of not having to change the name because if the names use is challenged and they lose, GAME OVER.

    As many mention above this is all the fault of Foley, neglecting what the fans wanted then lying to us to make it sound reasonable, which its not.

  6. JMO

    http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=87147239&caseType=SERIAL_NO&searchType=statusSearch

    And to prove I am right, it will only be published for opposition next month, NOT approved yet. These morons, including the reviewjournal who claim they get their name do no fact checking of the uspto or they’d see it is approved PENDING still.

    Foley at this point is facing 1 definite loss and a maybe for the second… this name could still be forced to change mid season of all things due to stubbornness, very unprofessional of the league to allow this mess. Guess when you charge a guy 3-4x what something is worth you let it slide LOL

      • JMO

        That is true but what does approved for Pub mean….

        You see, in a couple months time or so after published we will see who if anyone opposes it. Considering the circumstances and potential opposition it is not a slam dunk. At this point it is like you asking your grandmother for a cookie and she says yes as long as your mom is ok with it…. until it clears this hurdle the team literally has nothing Ken, not a merch TM, and still not a name! I think it stated Sept for publication? So give it 4-8 weeks so by November we will know for sure. These articles should read uspto agrees to allow trademark for teams name to move forward, the reviewjournal is misleading, imo.

        *What does ‘TRAM Snapshot of App at Pub for Oppostn’ mean?  It means that the trademark application was approved by the examining attorney for publication for opposition…. The Trademark Snap Shot Publication Stylesheet is a document, a table that presents the data on Publication Approval. This is NOT the beginning of the Opposition period. Approximately two months after the trademark has been approved, it will receive a publication date for its publication in the Trademark Official Gazette. A Notice Of Publication postcard goes out to the applicant or the applicant’s representative and that date of publication, always a Tuesday, will be the BEGINNING of the opposition period.

        • JMO

          May I add this is why the teams official comment was muted at best, not a for hoy we have our name 100% yaaaa, no a simple moving forward. Because they know as of this time they have nothing and a huge merch issue.

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