Could the Vegas Golden Knights end up having to change their name? Well, we’re going to find out.
A trademark dispute was initiated by the United States Patent and Trademark Office against the NHL’s newest team on behalf of both the Army and by The College of Saint Rose in upstate New York in December. Nothing seemed to come of it, considering the Vegas Golden Knights have since gone through the NHL draft, training camp, pre-season, and now a week into the regular season, well we assumed things got settled and everyone was happy.
Not so fast!
Within the past two weeks both the college and the Army have filed separate requests to extend the deadline to file their official opposition to both “VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS” and “LAS VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS”, the deadline to file had been set for October 12, 2017. The College filed their request for a 90-day extension on September 25th, the Army did the same on October 3rd. Both requests were granted and the new deadline is now January 10, 2018.
The College and the Army now have the next three months to decide what they want to do here, they could simply forget about it, they could try and work with the league and team to allow usage to continue under certain financial conditions, or they could straight up say “NOPE!” and well, they’d probably win.
The issue was first raised last November almost immediately after the hockey team announced their name and logo by the Army in relation to their parachute team also named “Golden Knights”, their logo features a golden knight helmet on a black shield. At the time an Army official was quoted as saying they would be reviewing the situation and deciding how to proceed. Seems they’re still deciding.
While the Vegas Golden Knights haven’t registered any new trademarks, and allowed the trademarks for “Silver Knights” and “Desert Knights” expire, they did keep around another of their alternate names from last summer; the domain name for SandKnights.com, originally set to expire in late August 2017, was renewed for another year two-and-a-half months ago. Doesn’t seem to be much reason for the ownership group to hold on to this name unless it’s there “just in case”. There’s also the sweatshirt I purchased at the official team store listing their name as “VEGAS KNIGHTS”, I thought it was an error, but maybe it was another instance of “just in case”.
Sand Knights would work well with the existing logo, uniform, and colour scheme. Not a single thing would need to change with the uniform as it doesn’t use the word “GOLDEN” anywhere on it (not even on their inaugural season patch), same goes for their primary logo, the only adjustment would need to be made to the wordmark logo.
In 1964 the Colt Firearm Company took issue with the National League’s Houston Colt .45s (now Astros) two seasons after they began play, the firearm company said they’d allow the team to continue using the name if merchandise revenue was split. The ballclub rightly said no to that plan and took on the far superior “Astros” name for 1965.
Oddly enough the only other NHL team to use “Golden” in their name began life with a name change, in 1967 during their first season the future Golden Seals were re-named “Oakland Seals” after playing the first month as the “California Seals”. This had nothing to do with a legal issue, that team just couldn’t settle on anything, eventually changing their name four times within their first four seasons.
So… what do I think will happen? Same as I did back in December 2016. There’s no way the league or the team will change the name at this point, either the college and the Army decide not to file the official opposition or they reach some sort of financial agreement to allow the name to be used. You can bet we’ll keep tabs on this one.