A report from the Fayetteville Observer in North Carolina claims the Army Golden Knights Parachute team was not aware of the Vegas hockey team using the same name.
Alison Bettencourt, a spokeswoman for the Army Marketing and Research Group in Arlington, Virginia, said the group learned of the NHL team’s name through media accounts Wednesday. “We’re reviewing the situation and figuring out what the way ahead would be,” she said. -Steve DeVane, FayObserver.com
This has led to a firestorm on social media wondering if the Vegas Golden Knights may have to change their name within a week of unveiling it to the world.
The Creator confirmed they never checked in with the parachute team, but insists there are no problems with the team name.
We have no issue with co-use of the name. West Point was aware of the Black Knight idea but I never communicated to anyone about Golden Knights as I wanted to keep the circle small of insiders. I just focused on clearing the name for Trademark and Trade Name purposes. -The Creator
The hockey organization acquired a trademark for the name on August 23, 2016 for both entertainment and clothing use (IC025 and IC041 trademarks). The team also checked in with both the UCF (Golden) Knights and the Clarkson College Golden Knights.
The NHL handled it for us. They had their lawyers talk to Clarkson and Central Florida, and both schools were great about it. They didn’t ask for any money or anything in return. –The Creator to LVRJ
There is not a trademark on file with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the Army Golden Knights Parachute team however it is not necessary to challenge the trademark. Nonetheless legal recourse is incredibly unlikely.
Any party who may be damaged by an actual or proposed registration of a mark is entitled to challenge the registration. –Nolo.com
The key word is damaged. If anything, the Vegas Golden Knights have brought nothing but publicity to the parachute team and the Army itself and if The Creator has it has way, the Golden Knights Parachute team will fly in on Opening Night.
So, fear not folks who like the name, it’s not going anywhere. And for those who still hate the name,
get over it start looking for another angle, cause this one’s got no chance.
This whole thing kind of stinks because the level of disappointment has been raised again. I am not against the name but feel the ball has been dropped so many times now it makes one wonder.
I think there are a handful of red flags I will try to address each in point form.
-While the Army Golden Knights do not have a filed TM as you mentioned they certainly do have a right to dispute based on other rights.
-We know that the Army was not ok with the use of Black Knights and that Mr. Foley wished to use it. He seemed set on a name that represented the Army in some fashion.
-The above point was proven when Mr. Foley selected Golden Knights (Army Parachute team name), it is clear it was done to tie in Army. It is certainly no coincidence the name ultimately selected was taken from them. In a review journal article Mr. Foley is even quoted as having asked them to jump for the reveal. They said no, when they refused did he decide best not to tell them the name?
-We know now Mr. Foley asked two schools for permission, while that is good to hear it begs the question, why not ask the Army Golden Knights too? His excuse he wanted to keep the name under wraps is a weak one since he asked two schools already. Does this mean the Army cannot keep a secret?
-The name, intent, colors (to a degree) and Knights helmet are all huge things against Mr. Foley should the Army challenge his use of the name.
I see no way in which Mr. Foley can defend his use in a court of law. The later excuse the name had something to do with a gold mine in Northern Nevada owned by a Canadian Corp now seems to have been used as a cover up or simply to justify the use of the name Golden (dual purpose). However if that was the case why ask those two schools permission? To add to it I am not sure both schools even had live marks to start with. I find it highly suspect myself since we live in the Silver State. Furthermore Mr. Foley has spoken often enough of his Army affection and Knights name it is unbelievable the mine had anything to do with it.
At this point I am convinced the name can be challenged and challenged successfully by the Military. Unfortunately for Mr. Foley even being a billionaire there is no check big enough to pay off the Army, his affection and reason for the team name cannot be taken back and what should he do if challenged, will he fight the Military in court?
I could ramble on but the teams name fools no one, Mr. Foley should have asked their permission too since it IS the reason for the name. My theory why he did not ask is because he was already told no once.
What is that old saying “better to ask for forgiveness than permission”.
As far as a name change, it would be costly but on the bright side it would be a more popular name and merchandising sales would more than make up for any short term loss.
Just my 2 cents.
I’ve got to disagree with you. How in any way is this damaging to the Golden Knights Parachute Team? At the time of reading this article most people had no clue what the parachute team was, they now do. That’s publicity the Army can’t buy. Every time someone references the team name in Vegas, there will be a tie to that parachute team. Of course they are similar, but there’s no one in the world who will confuse a parachute team with a hockey team. There are no damages, so there will be no challenge, and even if there is, it’ll come up fruitless.
Ken, the damages can be real, for example look at the amount of negativity the name has brought up for one. Not enough, what about the fact that the Army may be viewing this as someone using their good name to enrich themselves? If the shoe was on the other foot could the Army use Fidelity First Financial or whatever it is to make money in another arena? Lastly there is the matter of no doubt he simply used their name, likeness, logo and Army mantra (to a large degree).
It is a complex issue but they certainly have a strong case and I for one feel if they pressed him to change it, he would. In fact that would have been a great question and if he avoided answering it, he would change it. If his love for Army is truly that deep he would never do anything to hurt them if they said it did.
I just remembered the T-Shirt drop at the name reveal involved them being parachuted down, my god it gets worse and worse for Foley. He couldn’t get the Golden Knights team so he parachuted the shirts down. He parachuted the Golden Knights, wow.
Just for the record, I championed Golden Knights from the outset, but it appears that the Army don’t want to be associated with Sin City. What happens if/when a Golden Knight breaks the law? The incident reflects poorly on the Golden Knights brand.
Gary Bettman is a graduate of Cornell University and New York University School of Law. I’m sure nothing will come of it but I think it’s in poor taste to use Golden Knights without their blessing. This was supposed to be a tribute to Army. It sounds like they want no part of it. Foley needs to smooth things over with the Golden Knights Parachute Team
On the positive side, the Winnipeg Jets unveiled their new home and away jerseys at a Canadian Air Force base in Winnipeg, the team used military personnel, actual jets, and a few Jets players to debut their new sweaters to the world.
Foley could take a leaf from the Winnipeg Jets book. There are 3 military bases in Nevada: Creech Air Force Base, Nellis Air Force Base, and Naval Air Station Fallon.
Foley’s already on record saying the franchise will give back to military-focused charities, the relationship can be fruitful.
@James, you make some good points, especially this one.
“What happens if/when a Golden Knight breaks the law? The incident reflects poorly on the Golden Knights brand.”
Looking back is 20/20 but just think if Foley were to have given the fan base the name they wanted be it Desert or Silver we would not be in this mess today, more fans would be happier and the massive backlash this name receives would be but a fraction of what it is.
In my short 50 years I have never seen a team name be more hated by its fan base. I watched the interview Foley gave last night where he said he wanted to give us an identity. Well Mr. Foley we told you what we identify with and you chose what you identify with.
I also read where Mr. McPhee said when they were sitting around the table and heard Golden Knights they all loved it, despite what the polls said, really? Gosh if Mr. Foley liked the name Jelly Sandwiches Hockey Club would everyone have liked that too>?
Good luck to the team and Mr. Foley but when the people around you tend to agree with everything you’d like they will “yes man” you right into the ground.
Not sure what Army will do but I can see their point, time to man up and admit when you were wrong because going this route is proving to be the biggest sports name blunder in major sports history. And to think all you had to do was appreciate the fan base and polls over yourself.
I’m with you 100% on the whole “yes man” thing. If it’s about a team name, who cares, but when it comes to picking up a player, George’s voice better be the one that has the most power. Anything else will simply be unacceptable, and you know damn well if we find out it’s not going that way, we’ll be all over it.
As for the damages, you can’t bring someone to court over hypothetical damages. If a Golden Knight had already had an issue sure, but thus far it’s been nothing but positive pub for them.
As far as this being a blunder or it being the most hated team name, it’s 2016. We live in a world with Twitter, Facebook, website comments, Reddit, etc. no matter what they named it, it would have been the most hated in sports history.
‘In my short 50 years I have never seen a team name be more hated by its fan base.’
Foley didn’t play it safe – Shortening the name was a gutsy move, he appears to have alienated segments of the local fan base. It would be interesting to see how different age demographics view shortening the name. Ken made a good point on the last podcast, the 140-character generation appears to be their target audience.
Vegas is also appealing to the tourists.
It will be interesting to see if it backfires.
I kind of understand that but if he did use Las the reduction to just Vegas would have been fine and almost naturally assumed on merchandise and in conversation, radio, tv etc. No one would have cared so officially honor the proper spelling and alienate no one. Not like when someone or some reporter/hockeynight announcer etc said Vegas …. that anyone would correct them as it is a natural reduction.
Both were perfectly fine and no need to chop imo as it does make some pissy.
Lots of good stuff in here on the marketing side. Really good stuff… http://lasvegassun.com/news/2016/nov/29/did-foley-get-name-right-depends-on-local-appeal/
For the record, I am a fan of the logo but not the name. That said, I am not losing sleep over it nor do I think it will get changed. My suggestion to KMO, James, Garry and others is to go buy as much merchandise as you can afford in the hopes it will be a rarity some day if they do. Then, in the words of Ken, get over it. For the love of Toe Blake, do we really need this much criticism over this?
Seriously…. you guys are really putting way too much emphasis on a name. In a year from now the name will just be another name for a professional sports franchise and all this “controversy” will be a thing of the past. There are plenty worse names in sports. Next December I’ll be going to the “Knights” game anyway…Golden Knights really won’t mean anything. I really like the gear and logo up to this point as well. Some really nice looking shirts, hats, etc…. I am really going to hate to see the comments around here after the team goes like 25-57 is the first season. At least then you guys will really have something to bitch about.
There’s definitely a certain entitlement feel that people give off when they complain about the name. It’s simply a name. The fact remains, we have a hockey team in Vegas… or Las Vegas. No one can take that away from us now. Be happy about that. there are much bigger things to worry about.
I am mostly troubled about Foley’s “my way or the highway” approach. Save for a few hires with the team, he has made some truly awful decisions in a very short amount of time. And they all look like they have been his idea, which lends to the earlier “yes men” comments, which I believe. This whole naming of the team has been and continues to be a flaming hot mess. Yes, he has 500 million reasons why he gets to name the team, blah blah blah. But your fans ponied up the deposit dollars to get you that team in the first place. Appease them, listen to them, and nurture them or they will fly away quickly. Which in the end means, the team will too.
‘I am mostly troubled about Foley’s “my way or the highway” approach.’
I guess it’s a positive sign that Foley has changed his stance on the head coach. He has come around to George McPhee’s idea of hiring a retread. Initially, he wanted to hire someone with no head-coaching experience at the NHL level.
Gare Joyce wrote about Scott Luce differing in opinion with George McPhee;
‘On arrival in Las Vegas, Luce talked through one strategic point where he differed from his new boss: the hiring of first-time scouts. McPhee came around to Luce’s thinking. “George wanted experienced scouts but we’ve since hired a couple younger guys from a lower level of the game but who have a broader knowledge of these younger age groups that are coming through,” Luce says.
Example: Raphael Pouliot will work the Quebec region for Las Vegas.’
It isn’t just about a name. At the end of the day, the name is one piece of a big puzzle. However, as I have said before, it is the fact that Foley claimed he was taking fan input into consideration, claimed their voice mattered in naming the team, but turned around and picked the name most universally panned. That is a clear cut sign that he is establishing this is HIS team and HIS team alone, and the people he is hoping will plunk thousands of dollars on tickets and merchandise are just along for the ride with no say in anything. Obviously, fans can be fickle and you can’t give them full say or react on every whim. However, to succeed in business, especially in an era where social media is more prevalent than ever, you have to listen and take the voice of your target audience seriously, especially when you are just getting out the gates with a new product.. If not, people are going figure out that you aren’t real quick and will react accordingly. The “my $500 million was spent, its my house and my rules” card will only go so far.
It looks bad that he didn’t ask them permission. The fact that he checked with 2 schools but not with Army make it look (at least to me) like he avoided asking them because he knew they’d say no. Why else go thru the trouble of asking some but not all of the entities that hold the name? Hope his lawyers were right for his team names sake. That would be embarrassing to have to change it now.
Here is the comments Bill Foley made to ESPN.com about the naming fiasco.
“Our development and use of the name Vegas Golden Knights was based upon Nevada being the largest gold producing state in the country and the golden tones of the Las Vegas strip,”
Rigggggghhhhhhtttttt Bill.. And I have a casino in Pahrump I’d like to sell you. With due respect, please don’t spit in our soup and tell us it’s salt. People aren’t stupid. The name Golden Knights was selected because it allowed you to stroke your Army itch. That bit about gold mining in Nevada and the Vegas skyline are all groovy and coincidental tie ins. Yet mining and the Vegas sky played at most 5 percent of a factor in the decision. The Army parachute team was the first, foremost and primary reason the name Golden Knights was picked. Please don’t insult our intelligence by trying to pass it off otherwise.