After a 10 year trademark fight, Cleveland Brown bleacher fans can legally call their viewing post the "Dawg Pound," now that the National Football League Properties Inc. (NFLP) has succeeded in its patent dispute with Los Angeles-based clothing company Hawaii-Pacific Apparel Group Inc.
On Feb. 14, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that the NFLP is the senior user of the "Dawg Pound" phrase. According to court documents, fans of the NFL have associated the phrase "Dawg Pound" with Brown's fans since the early 1980s, while the clothing company didn't begin marketing its apparel using the "Dawg Pound" phrase until the mid-1990s.
Hawaii-Pacific attempted to register "Dawg Pound" in 1994. But the NFLP opposed the registration and the PTO denied the request. Over the next two years, however, the clothing company succeeded in registering the expressions "Top Dawg" and "Lil Dawg Pound." When the NFL tried to bring the Cleveland team back to life after a four-year hiatus and patent the 20-year-old term, the PTO found that it was too similar to Hawaii's patent.
"A reasonable jury could only find that the Browns and the NFLP are the senior users," Judge Denny Chin wrote for the court. "[NFLP's] motion for summary judgment is granted and HP's is denied."