On December 8, 2016, ESPN’s website ran with the scandalous headline “Patent office denies Golden Knights trademark” regarding the new Las Vegas NHL franchise’s recently chosen moniker. The article subsequently provided a detailed analysis of all the supposed ways in which “Golden Knights” allegedly could not be a trademark that belonged to the NHL team. As you may have gathered, I am writing this article to clarify that misconception.
There are numerous statements and implications in that article that are dangerously misleading. Trademark law is quite nuanced. But ESPN continues to attack it with a sledge hammer. If nothing else, it provides me a good opening to discuss some of these nuances in trademarks and how they may apply to professional and college sports teams’ nicknames.