Those who follow the National Hockey League (NHL) are familiar with the league’s new expansion team, the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Known for their winning inaugural season and touching tribute paid to the victims of the Mandalay Bay shooting, they are now known by the Untied States Army for a different reason.

On January 10, the United States Army filed a notice of opposition with the United States Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB). The Army stated they will be “damaged” if the Las Vegas Golden Knights, owned by Black Knight Sports and Entertainment LLC, are granted permanent use of their trademark.

The Army’s Golden Knights first emerged in 1959 as an elite parachute team. According to the Army’s website, the team earned their name by 1962 due to their superior performance at competitions. “‘Golden’ signified the gold medals the team had won while ‘Knights’ alluded to the team’s ambition to conquer the skies.” The Knights currently use their name and colors for recruiting purposes, entertainment services, and promotional materials. The Army also believes they own “common law rights in color scheme black+gold/yellow+white.”

The NHL team first revealed its name and logo in November 2016, when they filed a trademark registration. The Army expressed opposition to the mark in September 2017.

Bill Foley, owner of the NHL team, graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1967, and has a strong affinity for the organization, so the inspiration for the team name and branding was not a surprise. George McPhee, General Manager of the team, recognizing this stated, “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.”

Foley even contemplated naming the team the Black Knights, the name of the Army’s sports teams. To clarify the team’s decision against the name, McPhee tweeted, “We were going to be the Black Knights, but we already have the Blackhawks in the league, so the league was trying to get us to come up with another name, so another name used at West Point is the Golden Knights for the parachute team #NowYouKnow.”

In the opposition, the Army stated the “public is likely to be confused” and falsely draw a connection between the two entities. In addition to the names, the NHL team uses the black, gold, yellow, and white color scheme similar to that of the Army’s parachute and hockey teams.

In a statement, the NHL team said, “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 Army does not currently have a federal trademark for the Golden Knights unlike UCF (University of Central Florida) and the College of Saint Rose. The College of Saint Rose has also joined the Army in filing a notice of opposition. Initially, the USPTO rejected the Las Vegas Golden Knights logo due to its similarities to the College of Saint Rose, but NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly stated, “it is not our intention to reconsider the name or logo of this franchise.”

“We strongly dispute the Army’s allegations that confusion is likely between the Army Golden Knights parachute team and the Vegas Golden Knights major-league hockey team,” the team said in a statement. “Indeed, the two entities have been coexisting without any issues for over a year (along with several other Golden Knights trademark owners) 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. 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.”

Peter Sadowski, the team’s executive vice president and chief legal officer, said “[t]here is no danger of the team losing its name or logo.”

The team has until February 19 to file its retort to the appeal board.

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