Creighton University’s US Trade-mark Registration Ruffles Some Feathers

Sanjukta Tole and David Bowden
Published September 12th, 2014

Nebraska’s Creighton University (the “University”) is home to the “Bluejays”, the name for a variety of intercollegiate sports teams sponsored by the educational institution. The University has a cartoon blue jay as its mascot to represent it’s teams during their games.

The University applied to register the following trade-marks with the US Patent and Trademarks Office (USPTO) in association with athletic apparel:

86067754(USPTO Serial No. 86067754)

86067719(USPTO Serial No. 86067719).

 

If these trade-marks seem familiar to you, you’re not alone. Rogers Blue Jays Baseball Partnership (the “Partnership”), the owner of Toronto’s Major League Baseball team, the BLUE JAYS, saw the applications as more than just friendly competition as well.

The Partnership has taken steps to prevent the University from obtaining a registration for the above trade-marks. To date, the Partnership has filed a Notice of Opposition against Serial No. 86067719 and requested an extension of time to file to oppose Serial No. 86067754.

Unsurprisingly, the Partnership opposes the applications on the grounds that they are confusing with a number of its prior used and registered US trade-marks, including the well-known Toronto Blue Jay Design:

4310015(US Reg. Nos. 4310015, 4310019, 4310020).

The Partnership’s trade-marks cover apparel, toys, sporting goods, and even electronics.

While the Partnership’s registered US trade-marks lack the angry look of the University’s Bluejay, the Partnership argues that the University’s applied-for trade-marks likely deceive the public into believing that the University’s goods have their origin with, or are endorsed or otherwise associated with, the Partnership’s TORONTO BLUE JAYS.

The University has not sought registration for any of its Bluejay trade-marks in Canada, perhaps wary of giving the Partnership the home-field advantage. Nevertheless, the Opposition will certainly be monitored by Canadian trade-mark professionals and sports fans alike in the coming months.