The Dallas Cowboys Take on Former Player in Trademark Battle

The Dallas Cowboys are taking on one of their own in a legal battle off the field.  The Dallas Cowboys have taken action against the Palmer-Williams Group, a company created by former Dallas Cowboys running back, Sherman Williams, and former Minnesota Vikings running back David Palmer.

According to their website, the Palmer-Williams Group is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded to provide youth development programs aimed at assisting disadvantaged youth.  The Palmer-Williams Group “focuses on psychological and physical development by providing fitness activities and nutritional counseling” through free camps for youth audiences.

Recently, the Palmer-Williams group filed a trademark application for the below mark used in connection with one of their camps, the “Prichard Cowboys.”

The application was filed for use in connection with “hats; jerseys; pants; socks; sweatshirts; t-shirts” in Class 25.  On their website, the Palmer-Williams Group describes the Prichard Cowboys camp as a camp that “encourages, fosters, and promotes good sportsmanship and physical fitness through participation in team sports.”

The Dallas Cowboys filed an opposition to Palmer-Williams’ trademark application, which the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board granted, instituting an official opposition proceeding on September 6, 2016.  In their opposition, the Dallas Cowboys allege a number of grounds for opposition.  First, the Dallas Cowboys allege that there will be a likelihood of confusion and that their own mark that has priority.  In addition, the Dallas Cowboys argue that there will be dilution of their trademark by blurring and that a false suggestion of connection with their marks will occur.  As basis of opposition, the Dallas Cowboys cite, among several other Dallas Cowboys registered marks, U.S. Reg. No. 3,097,072 for their star logo.

The Dallas Cowboys star design mark was registered in connection with “hats, caps, visors, headbands, gloves, shirts, t-shirts, polo shirts, shorts, pants, jackets sweat suits, coats, sweatshirts, [overalls,] girl cheerleader uniforms, infant apparel, namely infant t-shirts, rompers, creepers, fleece sets comprising fleece tops and bottoms, jerseys, cheerleading sets comprising skirts, shirts and vests, infant and toddler one piece clothing, wind suits and pajamas, [masks, namely, sleep masks and ski masks,] and ponchos in Class 25.  Similarly, the Dallas Cowboys also cite U.S. Reg. No. 1,930,385 for the word mark “DALLAS COWBOYS” in Class 25, claiming a first use date of September 1963.

Despite the charitable nature and goal of the Palmer-Williams Group, it is likely that the Dallas Cowboys’ opposition to the mark will succeed.  Palmer-Williams’s mark applied-for mark arguably completely incorporates the famous (and registered) Dallas Cowboys star mark, an unlikely coincidence given Williams’s former employment with the team as well as the camp’s connection with football.

Moreover, the application was filed for use in connection with almost identical goods in the same trademark class as the Dallas Cowboys’ marks.  Due to the similarity in goods, market channels, and the marks themselves, it is highly unlikely that the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board will not side with the Dallas Cowboys in the opposition proceedings.  As such, Palmer-Williams would be better off choosing a different mark for registration and use in connection with their camps.

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