July 29, 2019
After being picked first overall by the New Orleans Pelicans at this year’s NBA Draft, Zion Williamson looked into the camera and said “let’s dance”. The next day, both Williamson and his new team filed competing applications to trademark the catch phrase for commercial use.
Under U.S. trademark law, when there are conflicting marks in pending applications, action on the application with the later effective filing date will be suspended until the party who filed first either registers or abandons its application. Although both parties submitted their requests the day after the Draft, the Pelicans reportedly filed five hours ahead of Williamson. In theory, this means that the Pelicans have first dibs on the “Let’s Dance” trademark.
Attorney Jeff Gerben, who first reported the trademark race, speculated that it was likely an unintentional mix-up. "This appears to be very much a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing," he said. "It would be very unlikely ... [the Pelicans] would want a trademark dispute with their new superstar. And it's very likely that the parties work this out."
Authors: Larissa Fulop and Aaron Barrett