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Volume 25 No. 107
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Royals, NWSL Team In Nasty Dispute Over Trademark Infringement

The NWSL claims MLB waited too long to act after the league used resources to establish the Royals brand

The NWSL "denied there is a trademark infringement" against the MLB Royals in response to a "suit filed in late August" regarding the NWSL Utah Royals name, according to Brandon Judd of the DESERET NEWS. The MLB Royals "filed an opposition" on Aug. 29 with the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office, "claiming trademark infringement" by the NWSL over its team and trademark. The Utah Royals played their "first professional season" in the NWSL in '18. In their response, the NWSL "outlined eight affirmative defenses to the claims" made by the MLB Royals. The third defense claims that MLB has "long known" about the NWSL and the Utah Royals but "waited well after the NWSL had used significant resources to establish the Utah Royals brand before acting." The NWSL also "challenged there is no evidence of confusion between the brands," and that the suit was filed "for the ulterior purpose of demoralizing Women's Soccer and stifling professional female sports leagues in general." In the original trademark suit, the MLB Royals "claimed that the Royals FC logo, which incorporates a lion and crown design, are symbols closely tied" to the MLB team (DESERETNEWS.com, 10/9). NWSL Portland Thorns Owner Merritt Paulson tweeted, "You should be ashamed @Royals (and @MLB for that matter). You believe a women’s soccer team in Utah creates confusion with or lessens your brand? Pretty disgusting lawsuit" (TWITTER.com, 10/9).

BOUND & DETERMINED: In K.C., Blair Kerkhoff notes last November, an attorney for the Utah Royals "contacted a lawyer" for the MLB Royals to say that the Utah franchise was "considering the Royals nickname." The attorney's response was that the MLB Royals are "not in favor of this, and overall I would not encourage you to be very optimistic" (K.C. STAR, 10/10). In Salt Lake City, Alex Vejar noted there was "initial concern" in naming the NWSL team the Royals because the team was, "in effect, replacing the team" from K.C. However, Utah Royals Owner Dell Loy Hansen was "determined." Hansen said, "We're going to make a logo. Sue us" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 10/10).