Wednesday, March 28, 2018

U.S. Army Department Prepares for War with the “VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS” – a Brief Note.

There seems to be no end to the interesting news relevant to the newest expansion team in the National Hockey League, the “Vegas Golden Knights.”  Not the least of which is that the team likely will be the most successful first-year expansion team in sports history.[1]  “The Golden Knights are trying to become the first team in North American professional sports to finish first in its division in its inaugural season [minus some technical exceptions].”[2]
While Vegas appears to be betting on Vegas, the Vegas Golden Knights team could lose in another venue, the U.S.Patent and Trademark Office.  Because, it is with the PTO where the team could lose the rights to its name, due to the Army Department’s opposition. 
There is no shortage of stories telling of how the team decided on its name.  However, the following seems to sum it up nicely:
“The franchise is owned by Black Knight Sports and Entertainment LLC, run by Bill Foley. Mr. Foley’s interest in Knights apparently stems from his time attending West Point military academy.  West Point’s sports teams are known as the Black Knights.   Foley initially wanted to call the new hockey team the Black Knights but received push back from West Point, according to the Army Times.  Knights also appear in other Army teams – the U.S. Army Parachute Team is called the "Golden Knights,” and it appears Mr. Foley next moved his choice for a team name to the Golden Knights. “[3]
(From here the reported stories somewhat diverge as to what actually transpired leading up to the final decision on the hockey team’s name.[4])
The Army, for its part, does not seem amused with Mr. Foley’s choice of names for his team, and the Army appears to be mobilizing for war.[5] The Army Department has filed a Notice of Opposition to the “GOLDEN KNIGHTS” name with the PTO.[6]  The Army Dept. claims: use of the color scheme since 1919 (incl. current USMA hockey team); both parties are in the same field (sporting events); both use “GOLDEN KNIGHTS” (Army since 1962/67).  All amounting to confusion and suggesting a false connection and dilution of its common-law mark (trademark).[7]  Allying alongside the Army appears to be none other than the PTO itself – albeit in defense of College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY (owner of “GOLDEN KNIGHTS THE COLLEGE OF SAINT ROSE”).[8]  
Given the success of the Vegas Golden Knights team, the City of Las Vegas – and many hockey fans – appear to be bracing for battle.  Because, the City of Las Vegas appears ready to give the Army Dept. a middle-finger salute.[9]  The team notes, “no one has showed up at our hockey games complaining that they were expecting to see an acrobatic sky-diving team.”[10]
For now, calmer heads have prevailed, according to Trademarkology, as the parties have decided to try to negotiate a settlement.[11]  But this blogger is betting on the Vegas Golden Knights to win in the end, as this blogging consumer never experienced any such confusion in the matter until reading the Army Department’s Opposition.

Adam Trotter  (March, 2018) 

PS:  It's lookin' to be a good fight, if logos could talk!

[1] “Vegas Has The Best Expansion Team In The History Of Pro Sports, And It’s Not Close”, By N. Paine, FiveThirtyEight, located at:, last accessed Mar. 26 2018. 
[2] “Golden Knights first to 100 points in inaugural NHL season - Vegas trying to become second debut team … to win division”,, located at:, last accessed Mar. 26 2018. (See poss. Exceptions: ‘50 Browns, ‘66-67 Flyers, ‘76 Nuggets.)
[3] “NHL Team Trademark Gets Iced”, by Guest Blogger on Dec. 12 2016, Trademarkology, located at:, last accessed Mar. 26 2018.
[4] See, for example: “Vegas Golden Knights, Named to Avoid Trademark Dispute, Face Trademark Dispute”,  by M. Stevens, NY Times, Jan. 12 2018, located at:, last accessed Mar. 28 2018.
[5] See for example: “Courting War – in a Court of Law”; Poetry and [Would-Be] Proverbs, by A.V. Trotter (blog), located at:, last accessed Mar. 28 2018.
[6] “The renowned U.S. Army Parachute Team has been nicknamed the “Golden Knights” since 1962 [or ’67?] and also uses a “yellow/gold, black, and white” color scheme.” From: “The Fight Over the “Golden Knights””, By R. Dix Bishop, Jan. 30 2018, Trademarkology, located at:, last accessed Mar. 26 2018.  Also, the Army’s filed Objection can be seen at:
[7] The Army claims Vegas violates Lanham Act Section 2(a) (falsely suggest a connection with … institutions, … or national symbols), and 2(d) (false connection … to cause confusion…). 15 USC 1052(a) and (d); and Section 13 of Lanham Act (likely to cause dilution by blurring or dilution by tarnishment under section 1125(c) [false designation of origin]). 15 USC 1063.
[8] See FN 6, Trademarkology.
[9] “Don’t bet on a Golden Knights name change in trademark case”, By A. Candee & J. Granger, Jan. 16 2018, Las Vegas Sun, located at:, last accessed Mar. 26 2018.
[10] Id.  See also: “Sleekcraft Factors,” from: AMF Inc. v. Sleekcraft Boats, 599 F.2d 341, 348-49 (9th Cir. 1979).
[11] For the Army: “[R]ecent filings with the TTAB reflect that the parties are actively engaged in settlement negotiations and have agreed to suspend all deadlines for 90 days.” For Saint Rose: “The Vegas Golden Knights responded to the office actions in June 2017; however, final disposition has been stalled as the Vegas Golden Knights’ applications have been suspended pending disposition of earlier filed applications.”  See FN 6.

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