NHL's Vegas Golden Knights denied trademark for nickname

Associated Press

December 9, 2016

LAS VEGAS The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has denied the Vegas Golden Knights' trademark application a little more than two weeks after the new NHL franchise unveiled its name and logo.

The office cites potential confusion with the team name for the College of Saint Rose in New York, which is also the Golden Knights. The Las Vegas franchise is set to take the ice next season.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league will formally respond by a June 7 deadline outlining why it believes the name should be registered "in co-existence" with that of Saint Rose "just as a number of other nicknames currently co-exist in professional and college sports (particularly where there is no overlap as to the sport for which the nickname is being used)."

"We consider this a routine matter and it is not our intention to reconsider the name or logo of this franchise," Daly said Wednesday. "We fully intend to proceed as originally planned, relying on our common law trademark rights as well as our state trademark registrations while we work through the process of addressing the question raised in the federal applications."

David Alexander, assistant athletic director for communications at the College of Saint Rose, said the school's trademark was registered in 2004. He declined to say how the college would react if the NHL franchise continued to pursue its application to use the nickname.

"It's only the first period, I don't want to get too far ahead," Alexander said.

Saint Rose does not have a hockey team.

"We have a registered trademark. We love the name," Alexander said. "Fifteen years ago we redesigned the logo and wanted a trademark to specifically protect our brand. The logo represents the spirit of the school."

The patent office said the similarities were too many to overlook.

"In this case, the marks are identical in part, sharing the same dominant wording and overall commercial impression," it said in denying the application. "The nature of the applicant's and registrant's services is similar; both offer sports entertainment of a kind available in the same venues, broadcast on television, and are generally available to the same class of consumers. Accordingly, the examining attorney concludes that there is a likelihood of confusion between the applicant's and registrant's marks."

The team told Sports Illustrated it found the patent office decision "not at all unusual" and said the official response would be crafted with help of legal counsel .

Clarkson University in northern New York has a Division I hockey team nicknamed the Golden Knights. The school has not trademarked the name, and Kelly Chezum, vice president for external relations, said the college entered into a peaceful coexistent agreement with the owner of the new NHL team in Las Vegas earlier this year. Chezum said she knew there was a possibility of questions regarding the nickname and took a proactive stance.