The #1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Zion Williamson and his team, the New Orleans Pelicans both filed separate trademark applications for “Let’s Dance” - a phrase Zion used while being interviewed at this year’s NBA Draft.
Both parties filed for the same phrase on the same day within hours of each other for similar goods and services. The Pelicans filed their application at about 3:30PM and Zion Williamson filed his at about 8:20PM. Neither party is currently using the mark in commerce. However, if an applicant is unable to prove “use in commerce” when filing, they can opt to submit what is called an “intent-to-use” application under Section 1(b) of the Trademark Act. This would tell the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that the applicant has a bonafide intention to use the trademark in commerce in the near future. Furthermore, the filing of such an application allows the applicant to reserve rights to the trademark, before they even use it since they will obtain a priority date that precedes the date of actual use in interstate commerce. Under this rule, the New Orleans Pelicans may have the superior priority date since they won the race to the USPTO by just under 5 hours.
With this considered, the Pelicans’ application will most likely result in a denial of Zion’s since the USPTO does not allow similar or the same marks to be registered for similar products and services.
Professional athletes must be proactive with protecting their intellectual property. Sometimes, it could be your own team lurking.
Will there be a trademark battle in the Big Easy? Hopefully, no. Let’s hope this is something both parties can amicably resolve.
DISCLAIMER: This blog post does not constitute legal advice. It is merely for educational purposes.