Los Angeles – The former San Diego Chargers recently announced that they are moving and will become the Los Angeles Chargers. However, the company owning the team, the Chargers Football Company LLC, has run into some trouble getting a trademark for “LA Chargers”.
Chargers Football Company filed a trademark in January 2016 on an intent to use basis for “LA Chargers”. The trademark was intended to be broad, covering a variety of sports merchandise from posters to toys to athletic gear. The trademark was published for opposition on December 20, 2016. That same day, L.A. Gear, Inc., filed a Notice of Opposition against the Application. LA Gear is a sports footwear company founded in 1979.
LA Gear expressed concerns in its opposition that consumers would be confused between the Chargers trademark application and the 22 trademarks that LA Gear had already filed dating back to 1985. LA Gear argues that because the sports and LA-themed merchandise will be marketed to the same consumers, people may believe the Chargers’ products are connected to LA Gear. Consumers, for example, may assume the products originated from or were sponsored by LA Gear. If a consumer is dissatisfied with the Chargers product, it could damage LA Gear’s reputation.
LA Gear’s concerns apparently only apply to the proposed LA Chargers trademark, not the Los Angeles Chargers trademark. The Chargers have a few options even if the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board rules in favor of LA Gear. The Chargers can fight the issue in federal court. One argument would be that the trademark is weak because other LA sports entities have existed alongside LA Gear for many years. The LA Dodgers existed before LA Gear, and the two brands coexisted for more than 30 years. The LA Galaxy registered its trademark in 2008, with no opposition by LA Gear. It would appear that LA Galaxy is more similar to LA Gear than the LA Chargers. The Chargers can argue that since these organizations exist alongside LA Gear, it has no right to claim exclusive trademark rights on “LA” for athletic apparel. Another option for the Chargers is to attempt a deal with LA Gear which would allow the use.
The Chargers must file an answer to the opposition by February 16, 2017. Currently, the team is still moving forward with its relocation to Los Angeles without the guarantee of its LA Chargers federal trademark registration.