Malaka Of The Week: The No Fun League

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.”

Who knew?

TheNFL, noting
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…


14 thoughts on “Malaka Of The Week: The No Fun League

  1. Yeah, fuck the fucking NFL.
    I notice that they didn’t care about this shit in 1985, when the Saints were 5-11, and you couldn’tgive Saints shit away.
    They didn’t even care in the Bobby Hebert days, when orange “I’m a Who Dat” bumper stickers were on every goddamn car within 100 miles of New Orleans.
    No, they had to wait until you can make nationwide bandwagon bank.
    What a bunch of dipshits. I kind of hope the owners and the league get all bullheaded (well, even more so) about the labor negotiations, and the fucking league shuts down and goes bankrupt. Fuck these assholes.

  2. “It has been traced back to 19th Century show biz…”
    Isn’t that to say it is traceable to 19th Century ‘minstrel shows’, and has (or had) a generally racist “Amos’n’Andy” kind of undertone?

  3. It has been noted that the NFL wasn’t so quick to copyright the term “Aints” when fans were wearing paper bags on their heads. The way things are right now, though, I wouldn’t be surprised if they DID copyright it.

  4. I’m an academic librarian and get that the NFL and their teams have to protect their intellectual property.
    But as the Saints are a sports team, they owe their living to the fans, etc. This is a great pick-me-up for NOLA, etc.
    So I really suspect that this one will make the final list for Malaka of the year.

  5. This isn’t about the team protecting its intellectual property. The team didn’t come up with it. No one knows exactly who or when it started. The Saintsadopted it in the early ’80s.
    Is this like fucking Disney taking public domain shit (Cinderella, Snow White, etc.) and then copyrighting it to make a shitton of cash? Because, brother, that ain’t intellectual property. That’s raiding the public domain and retroactively claiming it as your own. Fuck them.
    And fuck Disney, too.

  6. Send the suits over to Zwolle to serve the papers. After two or three of ’em get cut to ribbons by the famed Zwolle knife-fighters, the NFL might get the message.

  7. at least local radio , tv , and the local rags have some fodder to fill the long wait untill the other super sunday.
    all who dats no what the real super sunday is.
    in that commish paul tags kept the saints in new orleans dispite benson’s wishes , i’m willing to take a deep breath on this one and let it die down.

  8. Hi Jude, I said it poorly.
    I get that any corporation has to protect its intellectual property / trademarks / patents.
    But as the sports teams are dependent on the fans (at least theoretically), fans already feeling disenfranchised from the teams, etc… it seems that a limited use of “Who Dat” could help cement fan support while overly harsh attempts to suppress it would lead to a negative backlash. “Who Dat” also has the advantage that it isn’t irreversibly bonded to the team and could be dropped if things get too far out of hand.
    Like you mentioned, corporations have been known to go to insane extremes to claim property that just plain isn’t theirs. You mentioned Disney taking over every fairy tale, mythologic figure, and historical feature. McDonalds taking over every use of “McDonalds” even though McDonald is a rather ancient and large Irish Clan.

  9. Good comments, guys. The flaw in the NFL’s argument is that they’ve never put Who Dat on anything which makes it a weak mark. I only took 1 IP class in law school but had a great teacher so I remember a fair amount.
    Also, stores like Wal-Mart are selling unlicensed Who Dat shit here and the NFL isn’t going after them.
    Frak the NFL and Tom Benson. Long live the Saints.

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