The Department of the Army filed a Notice of Opposition against the Las Vegas Golden Knights for its application to trademark its name, “Golden Knights.”
In its Notice of Opposition, it states that the United States Army has “acquired exclusive rights in the mark that predates any rights upon with Applicant may rely.” It also states that its mark is famous and became famous before the NHL franchise filed its application for the nickname.
The Golden Knights was the name given to the U.S. Army Parachute Team and has been in use since 1969.
It also cites quotes made by the NHL franchise owner as it relates to the unveiling of the Golden Knights uniforms as it suggests the color scheme was chosen because Bill Foley “is a ‘West Point Guy.’”
The Army quotes a Washington Post article from December 1, 2016 in its Notice of Opposition:
“Foley, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, was aware of the name of the parachute team when he chose Golden Knights. He even tried to get the parachute team to make an appearance at last week’s ceremony “but we couldn’t make it work,” he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Tuesday.
The Opposition notes that Foley attempted to use the “Black Knights” nickname but could not sine the NHL had the Chicago Blackhawks.
In response to the opposition, The Vegas Golden Knights issued a statement:
“In the Patent and Trademark Office, the U.S. Army filed its opposition to the Vegas Golden Knights’ applications to register the trademark VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS used in connection with the sport of hockey. We strongly dispute the Army’s allegations that confusion is likely between the Army Golden Knights parachute team and the Vegas Golden Knights major-league hockey team. Indeed, the two entities have been coexisting without any issues for over a year (along with several other Golden Knights trademark owners) and we are not aware of a single complaint from anyone attending our games that they were expecting to see the parachute team and not a professional hockey game. That said, in light of the pending trademark opposition proceedings, we will have no further comment at this time and will address the Army’s opposition in the relevant legal forums.”
The NHL team successfully argued that there would not be a likelihood of confusion since fans are accustomed to multiple teams sharing the same nickname. The Vegas team also identified other marks where Knights or Golden Knights had been trademarked. They also argued that the marks were distinctive in appearance, pronunciation, meaning and commercial impression.,
In addition to the Army, the College of Santa Rosa, which also has rights to the mark may also file a notice of opposition.
H/t: Sportslogos.net for the report.
One has to think that the sides will come to some sort of agreement for the use of the mark. At this point, the NHL Golden Knights are having a very good season in its first year as a franchise and this would make it awkward to change the name or logo after just one season. There is the opposition of the College of Santa Rosa to also consider