Las Vegas Golden Knights Trademark Application Lands in Penalty Box

Posted on: December 9, 2016, 01:00h. 

Last updated on: December 9, 2016, 01:08h.

Las Vegas Golden Knights trademark
Two logos, but not two patents, says the US Patent and Trademark Office, which denied the Las Vegas Golden Knights’ application this week. (Image:

The Las Vegas Golden Knights trademark application has been denied by the US Patent and Trademark Office, a development that could cost majority owner Bill Foley a pretty penny.

It was only November 23 that Foley unveiled the National Hockey League (NHL) expansion franchise name. Las Vegas’ first major professional sports team, Foley said the five-month-long process in settling on a name was to make sure they got it right.

The Patent and Trademark Office thinks they got it wrong. The office cited the Golden Knights athletics department at the College of Saint Rose. The small private college in Albany, New York, received its Golden Knights trademark in 2004 but doesn’t have a hockey team.

“In this case, the marks are identical in part, sharing the same dominant wording and overall commercial impression,” the office said in its denial. “The nature of the applicant’s and registrant’s services is similar. . . Accordingly, the examining attorney concludes that there is a likelihood of confusion between the applicant’s and registrant’s marks.”

The Las Vegas NHL expansion team will begin play at the start of the 2017/18 season, with its home being the T-Mobile Arena.

Black as Knight

The patent office isn’t saying there cannot be two golden knights in America. Team names often overlap. Depending on one’s geographical location and sports preferences, the wolves, lions, tigers, and bears can all represent very different organizations.

The US Patent and Trademark Office says Las Vegas failed to adequately differentiate its brand. And it doesn’t take a trademark expert to notice the potential problems with the Vegas Knights’ logo.

The proposed NHL emblem features multiple similarities to the college’s including a knight’s barbute headgear with a V-shaped opening. The hockey team also utilizes similar colors.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly remains confident. He says the league and team will respond to the trademark office before an appeal deadline in June.

“We consider this a routine matter, and it is not our intention to reconsider the name or logo of this franchise,” Daly said this week. “We fully intend to proceed as originally planned, relying on our common law trademark rights as well as our state trademark registrations while we work through the process of addressing the question raised in the federal applications.”

Icing the College

Saint Rose is in a precarious position. It could sign a consent agreement with the Vegas Knights expressing its satisfaction with allowing the trademark office to grant a second Golden Knights patent.

That will likely come at a cost to Foley, but that might not be a problem for the billionaire who has already put up the $500 million NHL expansion fee.

Foley’s campaign to bring hockey to the Mojave Desert was named “Vegas Wants Hockey.” Foley wants the Golden Knights.

The college seems to be playing its hand correctly thus far.

“We love the name,” Saint Rose Assistant Athletics Director for Communications David Alexander told ESPN. “Fifteen years ago, we redesigned the logo and wanted a trademark to specifically protect out brand. The logo represents the spirit of the school.”