Trademark Attorney Morris Turek

Morris E. Turek

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Oakland Athletics v. Saint Louis Athletica: A Trademark Opposition That Adds Insult to Injury

This week’s blog post comes straight out of my current hometown of St. Louis and is dedicated to everyone out there who just can’t get enough of women playing soccer.

In March 2009, a women’s soccer league called Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) kicked off its inaugural season with seven teams.  One of those teams was Saint Louis Athletica (which incidentally was the only team located west of the Mississippi River).  Saint Louis Athletica played its home games at Soccer Park in the St. Louis suburb of Fenton, Missouri.  In its first season, the team earned a spot in the playoffs after an impressive regular season during which it compiled the second best record in the league.  Unfortunately, Saint Louis Athletica lost in the first round of the playoffs to the lower-seeded Sky Blue FC, a team out of New Jersey that Athletica had beaten three times during the regular season.

About three months after Saint Louis Athletica played its first game, it filed a trademark application seeking registration of SAINT LOUIS ATHLETICA (Serial No. 77771531) for a wide range of products and services including duffel bags, clothing, magazines and, of course, organizing and staging professional soccer games.  It also applied to register the following two logos for products and services identical to those listed in its other application:

(Serial No. 77771555)

(Serial No. 77782943)

So everything was looking just swell for Saint Louis Athletica as it entered its second season of play in March 2010.  It had a successful inaugural season, made the playoffs, and (most importantly) sought federal protection for its various trademarks.  But, on May 27, 2010, Saint Louis Athletica announced that it was folding due to a severe financial crisis that left it without the necessary funds to operate for the remainder of the 2010 season.  The rest of the team’s schedule was canceled by the league and the players became free agents on June 1.  As you can imagine, this was a tragedy for all 25 fans of the team.

Less than two weeks later, the trademark applications filed by Saint Louis Athletica were published for opposition.  On July 13, the Oakland Athletics baseball club requested a 30 day extension of time to oppose the applications.  On August 23, Saint Louis Athletica assigned its trademarks and trademark applications to WPS.  The Oakland Athletics then requested an additional 60 day extension of time to oppose on October 12.

Finally, on December 13, the Oakland Athletics filed an opposition against the applications on the basis that the marks are likely to cause confusion with the Athletics’ prior use and registration of ATHLETICS and OAKLAND ATHLETICS in connection with professional baseball games and related products/services.  Inexplicably, the Oakland Athletics failed to allege abandonment of the Athletica marks as an alternative (and slam dunk) ground for opposition since the Saint Louis Athletica team ceased operations seven months prior to the filing of the opposition.  Anyway, according to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board records, the parties have agreed to suspend the opposition proceeding for six months while they engage in settlement negotiations.  Wow, I bet WPS loves incurring legal fees to resolve an opposition involving the trademarks of a defunct team that has zero name recognition and that isn’t going to be revived any time soon.

So, that’s the sad story of Saint Louis Athletica and its trademarks.  I’m over it.  How many days until pitchers and catchers report?

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