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article imageApparel company sues SF Giants over 'San Francisco' logo

By Leigh Goessl     Oct 13, 2011 in Business
San Francisco - A Hayward, Calif. apparel company is suing Major League Baseball team, San Francisco Giants, over the 'San Francisco' logo.
The Giants have been using the logo since 1993, however neither the team, nor Major League Baseball, ever submitted an application for a trademark regarding the well-known cursive 'San Francisco' logo. However, back in March, Gogo Sports did apply for, and subsequently received, the trademark.
CBS Sports reported, shortly afterward, in April, the Giants "rushed to try" to get the logo trademarked, however the team was denied because it was determined to be too similar to the one owned by Gogo Sports.
Both parties tried to come to an amicable decision, but could not come to an agreement. As a result, the Gogo Sports has initiated a federal lawsuit in attempts to stop the Giants from continuing to use the familiar logo; the company is looking for a "cease and desist" as an attempt to prevent the Giants from using the trademark on any merchandise. Major League Baseball (MLB) is also listed in the lawsuit.
Legally Gogo Sports is the intellectual property owner, however it seems the Giants may have a strong case.
San Francisco Weekly reported:
Federal law "also protects unregistered trademarks," says Golden Gate University law professor William Gallagher. If the Giants have been using the script logo on their merchandise for years, it's likely they'll have strong trademark rights based on use alone."
Trademark lawsuits are common because brands worry that if too many others use a similar name, it dilutes the brand. Over the years there have been many lawsuits associated with trademarks, which, in addition to logos can include words, slogans, symbols, designs, and/or a combination of these items.
In the past, some cases have been won, others are lost, such as when Harley Davidson once sued a small motorcycle repair shop, the Hog Farm, as an attempt to stop them from using the word "hog". In this case, courts ruled the word was generic enough to be used by others, however the repair shop did have to change its logo to not resemble the one used by Harley Davidson.
Recently popular social media network Twitter was involved in a lawsuit with ad company Twittad regarding the word 'tweet'; in this situation Twittad had trademarked the word first, despite the fact that Twitter and tweet are harmonious. In this situation the case has been settled out of court with undisclosed terms.
How the case against the Giants and MLB has yet to be decided, however being baseball has long used the 'San Francisco' logo, it seems they may be able to retain their rights in doing so based on unregistered trademark stipulations in U.S. federal law.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Oct. 10, “The moral of the story is to make sure you trademark and patent-protect everything,” said James Eliason, CEO of Twittad.
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