No Fun League Strikes Again

Here’s a really interesting story about the NFL’s efforts to claim trademark rights over the phrase “Who Dat.” Who dat is part of a cheer that New Orleans Saints fans chant at games. The entire cheer goes: “Who dat” Who dat? Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints? Who dat? Who dat?” (It’s similar to the Bengals “Who Dey” cheer, only apparently more effective, seeing as the Saints are, you know, headed to the Super Bowl). The NFL has contacted two Louisiana vendors, telling them to stop (although the letter says “cease and desist” – why use just one simple word when two will do?) selling t-shirts that contain the term “Who Dat.” The NFL understandably takes an aggressive stance on intellectual property, but in this case, the term “Who Dat” has deep roots in New Orleans culture and the cheer was coined by fans. So while there’s no question the NFL owns the Saints’ logo, there is some legitimate question as to how the NFL can claim any ownership rights to this kind of organic term. Perhaps times are tough for the NFL. Evidently charging billions for a TV contract, forming its own TV network so it can charge fans to watch the games, selling luxury boxes for hundreds of thousands of dollars and charging full price for meaningless exhibition games just doesn’t get you what it once did. But squeezing some local vendors over some shirt sales? Sound like unnecessary roughness to me.