Cubs, Nationals Launch Another Trademark Opposition Over A 'W' Logo

from the wins-and-losses dept

Back in 2015, we wrote about a really dumb trademark dispute between a financial services firm and two Major League Baseball teams, the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs, over the letter "W." This insanity went on for years, with the MLB teams claiming there would be some sort of customer confusion in the public between professional baseball teams and a company that provided money management.

Well, in case you thought that this was insanity of the one-off variety, both baseball clubs are back at it with an opposition for the trademark of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, whose logo is, you guessed it, a "W."

At the end of November, the Nationals and Cubs filed an opposition with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board against Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. The Nationals and Cubs are apparently upset with Starwood’s pending trademark application to register “W” in connection with “Entertainment services, namely, planning, conducting and hosting music festivals, concerts and performances by musical groups and individuals.”

Starwood claims to have started using “W” in connection with the aforementioned services as early as January 2005. The Nationals and Cubs could care less. They say that if Starwood gets its wish of registration, then Starwood will be given permission to confuse people into thinking that its services are in some way approved, endorsed or sponsored by the Nationals and/or Cubs.

This is the type of situation that calls for people to recognize the subtle differences and to keep their eye on the ball for trademark law, which is customer confusion. Yes, all three trademarks in question are versions of the letter "W." Yes, all three entities in question are in some segment of the entertainment industry, two being baseball teams and the third wanting to use its trademark for music concerts and performances. That, however, doesn't equate to Starwood's use somehow resulting in public confusion. Just to be clear, this is one of the many iterations of hotel logo we're talking about.

Really makes you think of the Cubs and/or Nationals, right? And, with just a brief moment of thought put into this, it becomes clear that fear of confusion makes no sense. A member of the public is going to go to a Starwood property to see a concert, see the "W" logo, and... what? Think the Cubs are affiliated with the concert? Or maybe the Nationals? Both? These baseball teams are somehow putting on concerts at Starwood properties?

Fortunately, the general consensus appears to be that the MLB teams aren't going to prevail.

This seems like a stretch of a case for the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs, since Starwood is very widely known for its “W” brand of hotels and no reasonable person is confusing said hotel brand with the baseball clubs. Further, Starwood already owns trademark registrations for the “W” brand, including one in relation to providing hotel services, food and beverage and bar and cocktail lounge services. Unless the Cubs and Nationals are also going to attempt invalidating those registrations, this new opposition seems half-hearted and destined to fail.

So, strike two?


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  • icon
    hij (profile), 6 Dec 2018 @ 1:43pm

    Too little, too late

    Wish they had done this before GWB(45) was elected.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jordan Chandler, 6 Dec 2018 @ 2:43pm

    The Nationals and Cubs could care less.

    "The Nationals and Cubs could care less."

    How much less could they care?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Jeffrey Nonken (profile), 6 Dec 2018 @ 6:10pm

      Re: The Nationals and Cubs could care less.

      Yeah, "could care less" is one of my pet peeves.

      I wasn't going to say anything though. If I picked on all the spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors I see in Techdirt articles (or indeed, many online publications), I wouldn't have time to torrent massive amounts of porn. Er, I mean watch movies on Netflix.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Bergman (profile), 7 Dec 2018 @ 2:25pm

        Re: Re: The Nationals and Cubs could care less.

        Agreed. "Could care less" and "couldn't care less" have diametrically opposite meanings. If you could care less, then you actually do care about it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Dec 2018 @ 3:22pm

    Wait, why?!

    The Chicago Cubs? As in, the people who's logo is a C? The same letter 'C' that is at the opposite side of the alphabet to 'W'? I mean I could make a reading joke here but they probably wouldn't comprehend it...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Gorshkov (profile), 6 Dec 2018 @ 3:23pm

    The Washington Nationals I can kinda/sorta see (I still think it's bullshit, but at least I can see where it comes from).

    But what the hell do the Chicago Cubs have to do with the letter W?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      stderric (profile), 6 Dec 2018 @ 6:19pm

      Re:

      But what the hell do the Chicago Cubs have to do with the letter W?

      I've always associated the Cubs with the letter L.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        stderric (profile), 6 Dec 2018 @ 6:29pm

        Re: Re:

        And yes, that's basically the same dumb joke I made in the article from three years ago as an AC. (At least I'm only ripping myself off here, instead of repackaging a John Oliver joke like I usually do.)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), 6 Dec 2018 @ 6:16pm

    Certified Moron in a Hurry here

    More to the point, if I'm looking to view a Cubs game, even if I get distracted by the logo, I'm not going to be confused enough to check in at a Starwood hotel instead of buying tickets to the game.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    dave blevins (profile), 6 Dec 2018 @ 7:35pm

    A "block" W -- take a look at Walgreens W

    This is Walgreens https://goo.gl/mhJHYr
    This is Nats https://goo.gl/x4G2qG

    You gotta be kidding with the block W being close !!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Derry Vation, 7 Dec 2018 @ 10:41am

      Re: A "block" W -- take a look at Walgreens W

      Gosh, here's another ODD "account" in a Timmy piece

      This "dave blevins" has the characteristic name change from ""d blevins", (slight, but there it is like so many apparent zombies), sparse commenting (only 10 per year), and mainly a 26 month gap after first, all the way back to 3 Sep 2004!

      Oh, and "Gorshkov" up there is another sparse, only 34, with the characteristic gap after first, though only 16 months.

      Just nearly every Timmy piece I find characteristically ODD "accounts": name change, sparse, and LONG gaps.

      The dozen or so times I've pointed this out is far past correlation.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Glenn, 6 Dec 2018 @ 9:50pm

    Walgreens is the national pharmacy, right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pete Austin, 7 Dec 2018 @ 12:38am

    Are Starwood Hotels going into the sex business?

    Motels = motor + hotels
    Whotels = ***** + hotels

    (Full disclosure: these clowns just leaked my personal details so I'm really pissed off with them).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Vidiot (profile), 7 Dec 2018 @ 6:04am

    This particular Starwood brand... one of many... has been named "W Hotels" since the brand's inception; hard to believe that any rendering of its name, which happens to be one letter, would be acceptable to these idiotic teams.

    I predict rough times ahead for the Yankee Inn of Lenox, Mass., and the Padre Hotel of Bakersfield, California.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    So What...., 7 Dec 2018 @ 6:04am

    Not so fast...

    The Cubs are one of the largest concert promoters in the State of Illinois. Wrigley field hosts numerous stadium tour concerts every year. Also the Cubs secondary logo is the W for wins that is hoisted above its scoreboard...since the early 1900s. The Cubs used to own Catalina island off the coast of California and the local train they used to get around had the W as its flag...then it moved to Wrigley field and for Win...which was rare until 2016. But nonetheless, the W is completely part of every concert and event that happens at Wrigley..in..Wrigleyville..while winning...oh the aliteration.... Starwood loses this one...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Dec 2018 @ 7:45am

    how can a alphabet letter be registered to anyone, anyway? that in itself is insane!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Paul Heyden, 7 Dec 2018 @ 3:02pm

    The Cubs were using the 'W' while the Nat's were still the Expos. To think that any letter of our alphabet can belong exclusively to ANYONE is ludicrous. Keep paying all those lawyers folks - they're not complaining. In the MEANTIME, I'll wave my 'W' flag every time my Cubs win.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2018 @ 7:12am

    They wanna watch out who they go after next...

    I hear Weyland-Yutani don't fuck about when it comes to frivolous trademark claims...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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