2 July 2019Trademarks

US women’s hockey league seeks relief over Buffalo Beauts TM

The US National Women’s Hockey League ( NWHL) is seeking a declaration that it is lawfully authorised to use a trademark owned by the Buffalo Beauts hockey team.

In a complaint filed on Sunday, June 30 at the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York, the NWHL asked the court to rule that its use of the ‘Beauts’ mark does not constitute infringement and is permitted by a licence agreement between the two parties.

The complaint comes after the Buffalo Beauts sent the NWHL a cease and desist letter last month, on June 25, demanding that the NWHL stop all use of the mark and destroy all merchandise in their possession or control bearing the mark.

But, the NWHL said a licence agreement between the parties, dated August 2018, “expressly and explicitly permits the NWHL to use the ‘Beauts’ mark in the promotion of the NWHL”.

According to the complaint, the Buffalo Beauts is one of the four founding franchises of the NWHL, which owns and operates the only professional women’s ice hockey league in the US.

In August 2018, the parties entered into an agreement which gave Buffalo Beauts full ownership of its team.

As part of this agreement, the NWHL and the Buffalo Beauts agreed to allow each other to use IP of the other party for business operations, according to the NWHL.

The NWHL, under this agreement, is free to use both the “Buffalo Beauts” and “Beauts” marks, it alleged.

The complaint said that “despite the clarity of the terms” outlined in the licence agreement, the Buffalo Beauts contacted NWHL in June, alleging that “‘as you are aware … [NWHL] is no longer authorised to use the Beauts marks’”.

The Buffalo Beauts’ demands and threats have “placed a cloud over NWHL’s rights to continue using the ‘Beauts’ marks”, added the complaint.

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More on this story

24 July 2018   The US National Hockey League has taken on a beer mug manufacturer over the infringement of trademarks related to the Stanley Cup trophy.
22 August 2019   The National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) in the US has come to an “amicable agreement” with the former owners of the Buffalo Beauts team, resolving a complaint about trademarks.