February 3, 2010
Who Owns "Who Dat"?
A controversy is brewing over the ownership of the phrase "Who Dat?", which is chanted by fans of the New Orleans Saints football franchise (shortened from the cheer "Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?"). In light of the Saints' upcoming (and inaugural) appearance in the Super Bowl, some T-shirt makers have been selling shirts that include the phrase. The NFL, claiming trademark ownership of the phrase when used in connection with the Saints, has sent the shirt makers cease-and-desist letters. A competing claim to the phrase has been made by two New Orleans natives who assert that they were the first to use it commercially in 1983, although the phrase apparently has been in existence much longer. The apparent view among most Saints fans is that the phrase simply cannot be owned. The matter is of sufficient importance in Louisiana that Gov. Bobby Jindal has asked the state attorney general to look into the ownership issues, including initiating litigation if necessary.
For this sports fan/law teacher, it's fun to see interesting legal issues arise in connection with one of the biggest sporting events of the year.
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