The Vegas Golden Knights are really having a tough time catching a break in the naming department.
On Wednesday, a trademark request by the Golden Knights was rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in large part because the name and logo were deemed too similar to that of the NCAA’s College of St. Rose Golden Knights.
Yes, that’s right, yet another roadblock between the NHL’s newest franchise and the name Golden Knights.
The first hurdle for the team, and the first real hubbub about the name, came shortly after the naming ceremony in late November. The team had only had the Golden Knights moniker in place for a week when it was reported by The Fayetteville Observer’s Steve DeVane that the U.S. Army was set to review Vegas’ use of the name because it is shared by the Army’s highly decorated parachute team.
And all that came after Vegas owner Bill Foley purposely strayed from his first choice for the team name, Black Knights, in order to avoid any conflict with the U.S. Army’s NCAA athletics programs and after the singular name, Knights, was reportedly avoided in order to forego any conflict with the OHL’s London Knights.
Suffice to say, the naming process has been a headache thus far. However, before those who despise the name and/or logo go celebrating in the streets, it should be noted that the latest naming hurdle likely means nothing in the long run.
Shortly after the news of the rejection started to pick up steam online, Vegas released a statement to Sports Illustrated’s Alex Prewitt saying that the team plans to respond to the rejection and adding that this isn’t an uncommon obstacle when filing for a trademark.
“Office actions like this are not at all unusual, and we will proceed with the help of outside counsel in preparing a response to this one,” the statement reads.
In their statement, Vegas also pointed to the shared names of UCLA and Boston, both named the Bruins, Miami and Carolina, both named the Hurricanes, and even pointed out that Vegas and Clarkson share the Golden Knights name. None of this is to mention the MLB’s Texas Rangers and the NHL’s New York Rangers share a name.
ESPN’s sports business reporter Darren Rovell said the worst-case scenario would likely see Vegas strike a deal with St. Rose College.
While Foley hasn’t yet commented on the situation outside of a brief comment to NBC Las Vegas’ Amber Dixon, saying that the trademark had not been denied, the team’s senior vice president, Murray Craven, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Ben Gotz that organization believes “this will be fine.”
“We believe, at the end of the day, all parties will embrace the fact that we are the Vegas Golden Knights and this absolutely will work out,” Craven told Gotz. “I hope people don’t overreact to this at all. We believe everyone will be satisfied. We are only going to enhance the name Golden Knights for everyone. That’s our goal.”
UPDATE: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly has released the following statement:
“We are currently reviewing the Trademark Office's letter and will prepare a detailed response demonstrating why we continue strongly to believe the Vegas Golden Knights mark should be registered in co-existence with the college registration, 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). That response is not due until June 7, 2017.
“We consider this a routine matter and it is not our intention to reconsider the name or logo of this franchise. 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.”
Want more in-depth features and expert analysis on the game you love? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.