Whether a company is located in New Jersey or another part of the United States, there are laws about who has the right to use a name. This is what’s at the heart of a challenge the U.S. Army has made against an NHL team using the name The Vegas Golden Knights. The Army claims that it has been using the nickname for its parachute team since the 1960s. The hockey franchise with the similar name officially debuted in 2017.
As is the often case with most intellectual property litigation, the party being challenged disputes the allegations. The Army insists that the team’s color scheme, which is similar to what’s used by West Point’s hockey team, and name will create confusion for the public. The team responded by noting it hasn’t had any complaints of fans showing up for a hockey game expecting a parachute team.
The Vegas Golden Knights revealed the team’s name and colors in 2016. The Army filed its complaint the following year. The defendant points out that the dispute only involves the Army’s parachute team, not West Point. The defendant also stated that other teams with similar names have had no issues with the NHL expansion team’s name. The Army claims it has common law rights to the name as well as the use of the black, gold, yellow and white color combination.
With any dispute involving name rights, there are usually many issues at play, which is why it’s wise to seek legal advice when infringement claims are made. A lawyer representing the Army may claim that use of a similar name and color scheme could negatively affect their client’s established image. An attorney representing the NHL franchise might show examples of how the related advertising and promotions for the hockey team clearly differentiate it from the parachute team.