Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Pittsburgh Pirates Oppose "WHITWORTH PIRATES" for Clothing

I'll be you don't know where Whitworth University is. Answer here. Whitworth filed four applications to register the mark WHITWORTH PIRATES, in standard character and design form, for educational services, entertainment services (sports teams), and clothing, but the Pittsburgh Pirates have opposed. Pittsburgh Associates v. Whitworth University, Opposition No. 91187263.

The Pittsburgh Pirates own registrations for the mark PIRATES in various classes, including classes 25 (clothing) and 41 (entertainment). They claim likelihood of confusion and false association.

As is typical in these major league baseball cases, the proceeding has been suspended pending settlement negotiations.

Do you think there's a likelihood of confusion in the real world? As to the class 25 identification of goods, would it have helped if the clothing items were limited to goods "sold in connection with a college sports program"? Would a similar limitation have helped in class 41? How do all those little league teams get away with being the "Pirates?"

Text Copyright John L. Welch 2009.


At 11:47 PM, Anonymous Randall Hull said...

Likelihood of confusion and false association are certainly a stretch. The pro team is being a bit over the top on this one. Perhaps, as in your example, they should go after all those infringing little leaguers. Who knows where it could lead if you let such usage go unmitigated.

At 9:18 AM, Blogger sheenie said...

A little league baseball team was sued by the MLB last year because of the use of their logo. Here is just one of the news articles:

At 2:02 PM, Blogger Pastor Andy Arnold said...

The real concern...and I say this as someone who grew up in Pittsburgh and thought Three Rivers Stadium was great, and has had my heart broken since the early that this college team would be the better of the two teams, both on the field, and probably in merchandising!

At 4:12 PM, Blogger Bocoroth said...

I guess Seton Hall and East Carolina will be receiving a lawsuit at some point too. Better watch out!

Seriously, as a fan of Pittsburgh sports, including the Pirates, this is ridiculous.

At 5:10 PM, Blogger Sanjiv Sarwate said...

I suspect this is more a case of trying to keep the register clear rather than of any serious concerns about confusion.

At 12:25 PM, Blogger Christian said...

As an alumnus of Whitworth and current resident of Pittsburgh, I find this whole thing absurd. I feel like I would be the only person to wear an article depicting "Whitworth Pirates" here in Pittsburgh. Sorry guys, I must be the one the Pittsburgh Pirates are so concerned about.


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