U.S. Army challenging trademark on Golden Knights’ name, colour scheme

Not everyone is happy with the surprising success of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights. Vegas’ rights to use the Golden Knights name and colour scheme are under scrutiny due to a trademark claim filed by the U.S. Army, which accuses the NHL franchise of ripping off the parachute team of the same name. The claim was filed on Wednesday, the final day to oppose the Golden Knights’ trademark.

Vegas revealed its name and jerseys more than a year ago. At the time, owner William Foley made it clear the name was a reference to the parachute team and he wanted to choose a name associated with the Army having graduated from West Point in 1967. The Army initially made its concerns known in September 2017, but didn’t take formal action until now. The claim asserts a dilution of the Golden Knights brand through the hockey team’s use and expresses concerns that the name will mislead people to think the team is associated with or representative of the military.

While the Army does not own a trademark on the Golden Knights name, it is claiming common law rights on the name and colour scheme since it has been using them since 1969. Two collegiate athletics programs own Golden Knights trademarks, and one of those schools - the College of Saint Rose - has 60 days to file its own formal opposition, which would likely include a challenge to the Golden Knights’ logo.

For its part, the hockey team appears to have no intention of changing anything about its name or appearance. Vegas responded to the U.S. Army’s challenge with a defiant statement asserting among other things that no one has confused a Golden Knights game for a parachuting show, and that the entities have co-existed without incident for more than a year. Vegas has until February 19 to formally respond to the claim, which could result in the trademark being revoked.

The Golden Knights have been an unmitigated NHL success story, from their shocking position atop the Western Conference in their inaugural season to the popularity of merchandise associated with the franchise. As it stands now, their biggest loss this season might not have anything to do with their play on the ice.