The U.S. Department of the Army has filed a notice of opposition against the Vegas Golden Knights with the United States Trademark and Patent Office over the use of the hockey team’s name.
The United States Military Academy, commonly referred to as West Point, uses the team name “Black Knights” for most athletics, but the Army’s parachute team has been called the Golden Knights since at least 1969.
In its trademark opposition, the Army essentially argues it will be damaged by confusion between the parachute team and the hockey team.
The Vegas Golden Knights disagree.
“Indeed, the two entities have been coexisting without any issues for over a year ... and we are not aware of a single complaint from anyone attending our games that they were expecting to see the parachute team and not a professional hockey game,” the Vegas Golden Knights said in a news release.
“That said, in light of the pending trademark opposition proceedings, we will have no further comment at this time and will address the Army’s opposition in the relevant legal forums,” the release stated.
In its opposition, the Army refers to comments by hockey team owner Bill Foley and General Manager George McPhee suggesting that an association with the Army was not coincidental.
“Bill Foley is a West Point guy, sort of using those colors,” McPhee said in a Washington Post story cited in the opposition. “You know his history at West Point. You know about the classmates he had that he lost serving this country. So, those colors mean a lot to us, and will mean a lot to our players. And we’re really proud of the logo. It’s clean, it’s symmetrical, it’s kind of bold, and again it stands for something.”
The Army also provided photos of its hockey team sporting uniforms with a similar color scheme to that of the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Vegas Golden Knights have until Feb. 2 to formally respond to the notice of opposition, but don’t expect the dispute to end soon. The deadline for the team to request an oral hearing with the trademark office isn’t until July 24, 2019.
The entire 27-page notice of opposition can be viewed here.