A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: who dat

Who Owns “Who Dat”?

By Chris Cotter

This Sunday, the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts are set to do battle for the National Football League title. But that’s just the battle being waged on the field. Off the field, it has been the NFL vs. clothing manufacturers, fighting for the title to trademark rights in Saints fans’ infamous battle cry, “Who Dat?”

With the specter of the biggest game of the season looming, the NFL had done anything but endear itself to Saints fans. Asserting its alleged trademark ownership, the league had sent numerous cease and desist letters to vendors of Saints gear selling “who dat” merchandise, which left many in the press wondering why the NFL was suddenly and aggressively protecting “its” trademark right to the phrase.  But history instructs us that the NFL rabidly attempts to trademark anything it believes has even a slight association with the league.

When it comes to trademarks, it’s all about identification. In order for anyone to successfully register a trademark, the mark must “[identify] and [distinguish] the source of the good of one party from those of others.” So the question of who owns the “Who Dat” trademark really turns on what people associate the phrase with.

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