Fans of the Saints and Bengals have argued -- sometimes relentlessly -- who the creator was of their own chant. Did the Bengals fans come up with our "Who Dey" chant before the Saints came up with their "Who Dat" chant? Does it really make a difference at the end of the day? If one copied after the other, would the other stop chanting it? No. No matter the winner of the debate, the loser will still chant like it's their own. Personally, I believe the origin of both chants was in no way stolen from each other. Call it coincidence. Hell, call it irrelevant. However, there's a somewhat relevant issue arising that's taking some by surprise, thanks to the NFL. With the Saints about to play in their first ever Super Bowl, Saints fans are euphoric. Can you blame them? So fans want "Who Dat" merchandise and stores in New Orleans were originally trying to accommodate them. The multi-billion dollar business called the NFL, had a problem with this, sending out cease and desist orders to stores selling anything with the Saints catch-phrase without authorization.
According to NFL spokesman Dan Masonson, "Any unauthorized use of the Saints colors and other [marks] designed to create the illusion of an affiliation with the Saints is equally a violation of the Saints trademark rights because it allows a third party to 'free ride' by profiting from confusion of the team's fans, who want to show support for the Saints."
The league is also preventing the Superdome, where fans could gather as a community, from broadcasting the Super Bowl. Doug Farrar writes that Roger Goodell should have more pressing issues to worry about. "You've got an uncapped year and a possible lockout on your hands, and you're worried about a few unlicensed T-shirts?" Dave Goldberg writes that the slogan belongs to the fans. Michael Oriard calls the NFL a bully and Peter Finney writes that Who Dat belongs to the ages, not the NFL.
Yes, yes. The NFL has rights and there's trademark laws everywhere. Small market stores selling unauthorized trademarked slogans will hardly hurt the NFL's bottom line. As for the question of whether the league owns trademarks like Who Dey, or Who Dat, they absolutely do. This goes back to an issue that reminds me of what Mickey Mentzer, head guy at WhoDeyFans, had to deal with when when the NFL sent him a cease and desist order for having the words "Who Dey" in the URL of their site which, indirectly, caused a violation that Mickey had to resolve by removing an ad on his website. The cease and desist letter read in part:
This letter is being sent to protest your unauthorized use of NFL Trademarks in connection with the promotion of your web site, www.whodeyfans.com. While we have no objection to your operation of a fan site supporting the Bengals Club through www.whodeyfans.com, we have a variety of concerns with respect to the current configurations of the site. First, it is our policy that a fan site may use NFL Trademarks provided it is not, among other things, commercial or offensive. Unfortunately, your site fails these standards. You sell advertising space on your website, including to casinos and gambling organizations and to other commercial ventures.
Dave's Stripe Hype has felt the wraith, this time from the Bengals, when logos were used on the site's template. It's not a secret that the Bengals organization has a lot of distaste for blogs run by people not from the Enquirer, Dayton Daily News or other traditional media outlets. Guys like me -- who barely even makes a buck -- takes a vested interest in talking about the Bengals, providing free marketing about the team because we're more likely to promote them than we are anything else. How bloggers like us even want to blog about a team that would rather watch us drink rat poison has gone unanswered for years -- because I love it? Because I love the team? Because I'm yet to feel the wraith of the Cincinnati Bengals? Who knows. We're the scum of the Earth, the organization likely thinks. But we're harmless scum and thus, they've left us alone so we can simply go about our day. No harm done. Yet.
Question of the day: Should the league stop worrying about whether one of their trademarks, one that was mostly created by fandom, or should they go after small stores selling the trademark without authorization?
On Friday, the Bengals lost their associate strength and conditioning coach Ray Oliver, who will join the University of Kentucky as the school's Director of Performance, in charge of the "strength and conditioning program."
With his DUI arrest Friday morning, Rey Maualuga will likely be fined by the NFL. However, don't expect any suspensions for the first-time offender.
Chick Ludwig writes that the Bengals have to improve in all phases if they want to make the playoffs in 2010.
James Walker lists Andre Smith as the biggest rookie disappointment this year, even saying that he was "arguably the biggest rookie bust this past season."
Mardy Gilyard talks about his past.