For the first time in recent memory, the NHL had positive — or at least not negative — news come out of Arizona. Wednesday afternoon the Phoenix Coyotes announced that they are officially changing their name to the Arizona Coyotes starting next season.
Coyotes President and CEO Anthony LeBlanc indicated at a news conference today that the name change was a request from the City of Glendale.
“The reason is quite simple,” he said. “First and foremost, the franchise is not located in the City of Phoenix. We’re in Glendale, who is a strong partner of ours. But we also want to be the team not just for Glendale or Phoenix, but for the entire state and, quite frankly, for the entire southwest.”
The franchise has been known as the Phoenix Coyotes since it moved from Winnipeg in 1996. The Coyotes played their home games in downtown Phoenix from 1996 until 2003 when they moved to their current home in Glendale at the Jobing.com Arena.
However, the Coyotes might have jumped the gun on picking a new name to appease its new host city. A quick search of the United State Patent and Trademark Office database showed that the mark for “Arizona Coyotes” has already been applied for. Cue Homer Simpson — “D’oh!“
On September 20, 2013, a company by the name of Physical Fitness LLC aka Arizona Coyotes Limited Liability Company located in Anthem, Arizona and owned by Anthony Fioretto applied for a trademark for “Arizona Coyotes.”
And this trademark is not just any trademark. Mr. Fioretto sought the trademark for the following non-exhaustive list of uses such as:
IC 041. US 100 101 107. G & S: Amateur youth sports services, namely, organizing and providing youth sports activities; Athletic and sports event services, namely, arranging, organizing, operating and conducting marathon races; Booking of seats for shows and sports events; … Coaching in the field of sports; … Entertainment and educational services in the nature of on-line competitions in the field of entertainment, education, culture, sports, and other non-business and non-commercial fields; Entertainment and educational services, namely, providing a website that displays various requests, reviews, recommendations, rankings, trackings, votes, and information relating to uncreated, unreleased, new, special, popular, and rare products, services, and events in the fields of pop culture, entertainment, education, and sports, all exclusively for non-business and non-commercial transactions and purposes; Entertainment in the nature of hockey games; … Entertainment services, namely, providing an on-line virtual environment for trading virtual sports trading cards and tokens; Handicapping for sporting events; Officiating at sports contests; On-line admission ticket agency services for entertainment, educational, sporting and cultural events; … Providing an Internet sports news portal featuring links to sports news stories and articles in the field of sports; Providing an Internet website portal in the field of entertainment, cultural and sporting events; Providing automated filming of sports games; … Sport camps; Sports camp services; Sports instruction services; Sports refereeing and officiating; Sports training services; Ticket reservation and booking services for entertainment, sporting and cultural events; Timing of sports events
Not to mention, the trademark covers almost every type of clothing and apparel you can imagine.
C 025. US 022 039. G & S: Boots for sport; Bottoms; Clothing for athletic use, namely, padded pants; Clothing for athletic use, namely, padded shirts; Clothing for athletic use, namely, padded shorts; Clothing for babies, toddlers and children, … Clothing, namely, athletic sleeves; Clothing, namely, base layers; Clothing, namely, khakis; Clothing, namely, wrap-arounds; Combinations; Drawers; Dusters; Footwear not for sports; Gloves as clothing; Head wraps; Headbands for clothing; Hoods; Infant and toddler one piece clothing; Jackets; Jerseys; Leather belts; Maternity clothing, namely, shirts; Short sets; Sport coats; Sport shirts; Sports bra; Sports bras; Sports caps and hats; Sports jackets; Sports jerseys; Sports jerseys and breeches for sports; Sports over uniforms; Sports overuniforms; Sports pants; Sports shirts; Sports shirts with short sleeves; Sports shoes; Sports vests; Ties; Tops; … Women’s clothing, namely, shirts, dresses, skirts, blouses; Wraps; Wrist bands; Wristbands
Mr. Fioretto’s trademark seemingly precludes the NHL’s Coyotes from using the name in a large portion of the areas one would expect a professional sports team to use such a mark. This either means the Coyotes better start searching for a new name or are about to make the current trademark holder a very rich man unless of course this is just a case of an IP troll.
Even the Coyotes’ owner allowed some wiggle room about the name taking hold as it would seem unfathomable that nobody in the Coyotes’ organization would check pre-existing trademarks.
Mr. LeBlanc said, “(The name change) will not happen until, at minimum, the 2014-15 season. We have to go through the process of applying to the League, but our expectation and hope is that we’ll begin (calling the team Arizona Coyotes) for the beginning of the following season.”
If worst comes to worst Glendale Gazelles does have a nice ring to it.
UPDATE: The Legal Blitz reached out to Mr. Fioretto’s lawyer, John L. Lohr, Jr., who filed the trademark application, and received the following response:
My client Physical Fitness, LLC acquired the Arizona Coyotes trade name in 2010 for its business long before the Phoenix Coyotes announced it planned to change its name. Here is the link for the state trademark. My client also applied for federal trademark protection with the USPTO last year before the Phoenix Coyotes made their announcement. Unfortunately, due to multiple legal issues surrounding this trademark and demands made upon my client by the Phoenix Coyotes, I am unable to comment further at this time.