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Monday, October 3, 2011

Giants Barred From Trademarking "San Francisco" Logo

Posted By on Mon, Oct 3, 2011 at 12:35 PM

Wait! There's a "likelihood of confusion!"
  • Wait! There's a "likelihood of confusion!"

It was that kind of year for the San Francisco Giants. The team scored the fewest runs in the National League -- the fewest runs the team has scored, in fact, since it lost 100 games in 1985.

At the plate, the Giants just couldn't deliver. Bizarrely, the franchise has been unable to do so in the legal realm, either. On Aug. 8, in the midst of the team's epic swoon, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected the Giants' attempt to trademark the script "San Francisco" logo players have worn across their chests since 1993. 

The script "San Francisco" adorning team jackets and paraphernalia for 18 years was spurned "because of a likelihood of confusion" with the script "San Francisco" logos on the fleeces and jackets bought by hapless tourists unaware it gets cold here. That trademark was granted to Hayward-based clothing manufacturer Gogo Sports in earlier this year. In the world of patent and trademark law, when you wait 18 years to make your filings -- as the Giants did -- you can be quick-pitched.

"By not registering it for 18 years, the Giants allowed a junior user to say they started using the font and logo in 2008, and take a lead at the Trademark Office," explains patent and trademark attorney Milord Keshishian.

Following months of legal back-and-forth, Gogo in September filed suit against Major League Baseball and the Giants, requesting declaratory relief regarding allegations "that certain of Gogo's famous SAN FRANCISCO CALIFORNIA sports attire infringe purported trademark and other alleged rights of defendant."

Both parties received a wag of the finger from Keshishian. Gogo, he says, "is trying to argue that the Giants' failure to file for a trademark registration allows third parties to use that particular font. I believe this is misplaced -- The Giants' use of the trademark establishes common-law rights for that particular font even though they don't have the registration."

The Giants, meanwhile, should have taken their trademark bat off their shoulders 18 years ago. "This is a legal effort they could have avoided by simply registering the trademark in 1993."

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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