Hockey fans in California may be enjoying the Cinderella inaugural season of the National Hockey League expansion Vegas Golden Knights, but lawyers representing the U.S. Army expressed less enthusiasm regarding the team’s name and color scheme. Army lawyers have filed an intellectual property litigation action, accusing the team of trademark infringement. They claim that the Army acquired “exclusive rights” to the name as well as “common law rights” for the color combinations of black and gold as well as yellow and white in combination the name. The filing states that the trademarks were established as far back as the 1960s for the service branch’s parachute team.
The name and color scheme of the Las Vegas hockey team — the first major league sports team in the city’s history — were announced in late 2016. Surprising most analysts, the Golden Knights entered the middle of January with the second-best record in the NHL. The Army first voiced its opposition in mid-2017, and the filing of the intellectual property infringement complaint was made on the final day of an extension granted by the court.
The Army isn’t the only organization opposed to the use of the “Golden Knights” moniker by the new hockey team: College of Saint Rose in upstate New York claims it has the exclusive right to the name after having trademarked it in 2004. The school hasn’t filed suit yet, but they were also granted an extension, which has not run out at the time of this writing.
Sports teams, parachute corps, and school mascots are far from the only parties laying claim to trademarks. When it comes to intellectual property litigation — which can include copyright litigation, trade secret disputes in addition to trademark litigation, an attorney with experience in protecting clients like inventors and professional organizations may be of valuable assistance.