During an escalation in coronavirus cases, which has landed 115 of the state’s 120 counties in the red zone with an average of more than 25 coronavirus cases per 100,000 population reported daily over the past seven days, Team Kentucky — a term that was coined by Gov. Andy Beshear during the early days of the pandemic — has bigger fish to fry than a trademark case in which the University of Kentucky contends it owns the word “Kentucky” when it comes to clothing products. But here we are.
The college argued in a notice of opposition to the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board last week that the state’s “Team Kentucky” products are “highly similar” to its “Kentucky” athletic clothing trademark and would “likely … cause confusion” among consumers. The university said the similarity in the designs could hurt sales of its “Kentucky” products.
UK spokesman Jay Blanton said in a statement last week that while the college “supports and applauds the governor’s use of the phrase ‘Team Kentucky,’” it acted in accordance with a federal regulation by filing the information with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office “to assert its ownership of trademarked words and images.”
Blanton added that UK has been working alongside the governor’s office throughout the process. What a waste of time and money. How about working together to make this frivolous case go away?
Josh Gerben, a trademark attorney based out of Washington, D.C. who tweeted about the case earlier this week, concurs. He called it “about as silly as trademark cases get,” adding “it is a head scratcher as to why the case even got this far.”
The university registered “Kentucky” with the patent and trademark office in 1997. In March of last year, the state filed to trademark “Team Kentucky.”
“Nevertheless, the University of Kentucky’s case is likely to fail given that the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s mark is for ‘Team Kentucky’ (as opposed to just the word ‘Kentucky’) and there are many other ‘Kentucky’ formative marks in the clothing space,” Gerben stated.
We agree. UK’s trademark for “Kentucky” doesn’t include the word “team.” The university could, however, start acting like team players and drop this ridiculous case.
The state has until Sept. 22 to file an official response.