NHL Expansion Team in Trademark Trouble – USPTO Issues Preliminary Refusal Against “VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS” Application

Not even a major franchise system like the NHL is immune from trademark troubles: the USPTO has issued a preliminary refusal against the NHL expansion team’s trademark application for VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS (Ser. No. 87/147,239).

The NHL had announced the name of its newest expansion team a mere two weeks prior to the USPTO refusal.   The USPTO’s objection is based on potential confusion with a prior registration in the name of the College of Saint Rose in New York, which also has a team called the GOLDEN KNIGHTS.  According to the USPTO: “The evidence suggests the services of both the applicant and registrant are similar in nature; consumers of sports entertainment services enjoy both professional and collegiate-level sports, and sometimes even prefer the latter over the former. The registrant’s services are presumed to include all sports played at the collegiate level, including hockey. Therefore, the services of the applicant and registrant are considered related for the purposes of the likelihood of confusion analysis.”

The NHL has indicated that it intends to argue against the citation and that it is not presently considering re-branding for its new franchise team.  The NHL team has until June 2017 to respond to the USPTO’s objections.

Interestingly, Clarkson University (which is also located in New York State), has a Division I hockey team nicknamed the GOLDEN KNIGHTS.  According to news reports, Clarkson entered into a peaceful co-existence agreement with the Las Vegas NHL team earlier this year.

We will continue to monitor this story.

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