The Saints are obviously the talk of the town: NOLA’s pride and joy. The NFL, on the other hand, is about as popular as the bubonic plague in these parts right now. Why? The No Fun League claims that it hastrademarked the term Who Dat and has come down hard on some local businesses:
Count theNational Football League among the growing members ofWho Dat Nation.
After all, they own the phrase — or so they say in cease and desist
letters sent out to at least two local T-shirt retailers earlier this
In letters sent to Fleurty Girl and Storyville, theNFLordered the retailers to stop selling a host of merchandise that it says violates state and federal trademarks held by theNew Orleans Saints.
Among the long list of things theNFLsays
is off-limits without a licensing agreement are some obvious violations
like the official logo of the Saints and the team’s name. But the one
that stands out is “Who Dat.”
a 1988 trademark the Saints registered with the Louisiana secretary of
state, says it has exclusive rights to the phrase and demands that the
retailers stop selling it.
“I was surprised,” Fleurty Girl owner Lauren Thom said. “I think everybody was.”
Thom’s shirts feature the phrase Who Dat written as one word with
lowercase letters and preceded by a hash mark, a nod to the language of
the social networking site Twitter. On Twitter, a hash mark followed by
a word unifies all tweets on a specific topic. If a tweet, for
instance, includes #whodat, it joins other posts on a page generally
about Saints topics on Twitter.
“It was designed to unify the Who Dat Nation, not within a tweet,
but through a shirt,” said Thom, who began selling the shirts in August
on her Web site before opening a store on Oak Street two months ago.
I must admit that I’m not a fan of the term Who Dat Nation. It’s a bit too derivative and evokes people marching in lockstep instead of second lining BUT the NFL is engaging in some first class malakatude. Official Saints logo stuff is flying off the shelves here so the NFL and team ownership are making piles of money off Saints fans. I realize that they feel the need to shake down the suckers for as many pennies as possible but this has backfired. There’s already a backlash and calls for a boycott of No Fun League stuff.
The most annoying thing about this small minded malakatude by the greedheads of the NFL is that the term Who Dat is older than the hills that we don’t have in NOLA. It has been traced back to 19th Century show biz and wasn’t even applied to our Saints until the 1980’s when the team first flirted with a winning season. In those days the chant “Who Dat saying dey gonna beat dem Saints” was dubious at best but these aren’t Bum Phillips’ Saints but Sean Payton’s.
Saints management hasn’t chimed in on this as of yet but I suspect they’ll side with the malakas in suits. Owner Tom Benson is a car dealer and major GOP donor, after all. Nuff said.
The good news is that this issue has already been litigated and a court in 1983 ruled that Who Dat was in the public domain. The bad news is that the NFL has enough clout and money to scare the living shit out of the small businesses it has threatened. They have quite understandably chosen not to get into a legal pissing match with the No Fun League which has thereby won this week’s dishonor with its bullying and heavy handed malakatude.
I think the NFL’s commissioner should change his name from Goodell to Badell…