Army filed an opposition to the use of ‘Golden Knights’ on the last day that it was permitted to do so
The Golden Knights have taken the NHL by storm in their inaugural season.
On Wednesday, the Department of the Army filed a formal opposition against the Vegas Golden Knights’ ownership group, Black Knight Sports and Entertainment, with the United States Trademark and Patent Office for the use of the Golden Knights’ moniker. According to sportslogos.net, Army and the College of Saint Rose requested extensions to the deadline to contest the name earlier this year. The College of Saint Rose requested another extension, as Wednesday was the final day, but Army decided to formally contest the trademark.
Army has listed three grounds of opposition, including dilution, false suggestion of connection, and the possibility of being brought into disrepute. Army “believes it will be damaged,” according to the filing, and mentioned the similar color scheme.
Initially, the Vegas hockey team was to be called the “Black Knights” (which surely wouldn’t have spawned thousands of Monty Python jokes), but ultimately moved towards the Golden Knights. The United States Army Parachute Team is referred to as the Golden Knights, with that trademark officially registered, while the Black Knights, of course, is also the name of Army’s athletic teams. Golden Knights’ owner Bill Foley has even said that West Point was his inspiration.
“We were going to be the Black Knights but there’s already a Blackhawks in the league,” Foley told TSN Radio Vancouver in November. “So another name used at West Point is ‘Golden Knights’ for the parachute team.” Army references this in its opposition.
George McPhee @GoldenKnights : We were going to be the Black Knights, but we already had the Blackhawks in the league, so the league was trying to get us to come up with another name, so another named used at West Point is the Golden Knights for the parachute team #NowYouKnow
— TSN Radio Vancouver (@TSN1040) November 14, 2017
The Golden Knights have until Feb. 19 to respond to this notice, or they may have to forfeit the trademark. After that, they’ll have a long, arduous process in which they’ll have to prove that their brand is not built around West Point. An attorney told sportslogos.net that this case is no joke. “They make at very least a prima facie case that the marks and colours were intended to conjure imagery of the USMA which may be enough to get a trial court to side with the Army,” the anonymous attorney said. “This is by no means a frivolous case.”
The Golden Knights, however, seem to disagree regarding the frivolity of the case. The team’s response is not treating this matter with the dignity that the aforementioned attorney seems to think it deserves. As the main part of the Army complaint seems to refer to the Army Parachute Team, Vegas doesn’t see where anyone can get confused.
The @GoldenKnights release statement on Dept. of Army going after them on trademark violation grounds.
"We are not aware of a single complaint from anyone attending our games that they were expecting to see the parachute team and not a professional hockey game" = fine art. pic.twitter.com/981zkOqD9n
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) January 11, 2018
Foley registered numerous trademarks for the team, including the Silver Knights and the Desert Knights. If worse comes to worst, he may not need to forgo the Knights’ moniker entirely, but if Army has its way then the Golden Knights may not be long for the NHL.