27 October 2017Trademarks

NFL and Seattle Seahawks oppose trademark

American football team the Seattle Seahawks and the National Football League (NFL) have taken issue with a trademark filed by a Washington-based individual.

The Seahawks filed a notice of opposition at the US Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Trademark Trial and Appeal Board on Wednesday, October 25, against a trademark filed by Lee Watson.

Applied for in February this year, ‘ Tw Elves’ covers class 25 (athletic apparel) and was published for opposition in the Official Gazette in June.

The opposition said that “for many years, and long before the February 15, 2017 filing date” of the mark, the Seahawks and NFL have used similar marks in connection with their business of “organising, conducting, and promoting the Seahawks football franchise”.

The mark ‘12’, US number 5,0084,564, is owned by the Seahawks and covers class 25. The team also owns the marks ‘We are 12’ and ‘The 12s’.

The 12th man is a term for fans of teams in American football, and in 1984, the Seahawks retired the number 12 jersey in honour of its fans.

Before kickoff at every home game in the Seahawks’ stadium, CenturyLink Field, a giant flag is raised in honour of the 12s.

According to the Seahawks, the new mark would confuse or deceive consumers, “with consequent injury to opposers and to the public”.

In September, the NFL challenged a trademark application which it claimed was too similar to a logo used by the Indianapolis Colts.

An answer to the notice of opposition was due in this proceeding on October 16, but no answer was filed, so default judgment was entered.

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