The Green Bay Packers have started a trademark fight over its TITLETOWN trademarks (Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The Green Bay Packers franchise was far from a title contender this past year, finishing the 2017 NFL regular season with a 7-9 record, good for third place in the NFC North with only the Chicago Bears trailing the team. However, the Packers remain committed to the team’s trademarks TITLETOWN, TITLETOWN U.S.A. and TITLETOWN TOWEL, and the club is making it known through a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.
Specifically, the Packers are opposing the registration of a trademark application for TITLETOWN, TX, which was filed by McClatchy U.S.A., a subsidiary of The McClatchy Company, a publicly traded American publishing company. McClatchy filed the application surrounding a Star-Telegram series titled, TITLETOWN, TX, which is a weekly documentary series focusing on the 2016 Aledo Bearcats’ mission to earn a sixth state football title in eight years.
The Packers organization says that the mark and its use is too close for comfort, mainly because one of the ways in which it uses the mark TITLETOWN is in connection with entertainment services related to football, video recordings and broadcast media related to football, and digital content available via the Internet. It also points out that it has spent a lot of money surrounding its TITLETOWN marks, including the recent completion of a $65 million, 45-acre real estate development project adjacent to the Packers’ football stadium, which bears the TITLETOWN logo and mark.
The key question for the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board will be whether the TITLETOWN, TX mark so resembles the Packers’ TITLETOWN marks that when used for the purpose of the documentary, it is likely to cause confusion as to whether the Packers are in any way associated with the project.
Considering the fact that the Packers have used TITLETOWN in connection with very similar services and that TITLETOWN is extremely similar to TITLETOWN, TX, the Packers seem to have a strong start with the opposition. But does the addition of "TX" distinguish the marks enough to the extent that consumers would understand the Packers have no true connection to the state other than when it plays games there against the Houston Texans or the Dallas Cowboys.
McClatchy has until the end of February to answer the Packers’ opposition.
Darren Heitner is the Founder of South Florida-based HEITNER LEGAL, P.L.L.C. and Sports Agent Blog. He authored the book, How to Play the Game: What Every Sports Attorney Needs to Know.