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Trademark Trolls Stops University Nicknames 102

chipperdog writes: Trademark and patent trolls have even found their way in complicating a university nickname selection, with people admitting to registering nicknames with the trademark office just to stop them or get rich off of them. The Grand Forks Herald reports: "The search for a new University of North Dakota nickname hit a potential new stumbling block on Monday, when former Bismarck mayor Marlan 'Hawk' Haakenson registered trade names for several of the Fighting Sioux replacement options under consideration. Haakenson said he registered the trade names in an attempt to interfere with the nickname selection process, though a UND official said such an attempt was unlikely to succeed."
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Trademark Trolls Stops University Nicknames

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  • "found there way" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Calydor ( 739835 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @04:08AM (#50538923)

    Can't the editors even tell the difference between there, their and they're?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 17, 2015 @04:09AM (#50538927)

    Perhaps it means more to people in the US, but to a rest-of-the worlder this summary is entirely incomprehensible. In fact it is the most meaningless summary I have read in around ten years of reading Slashdot headlines.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's incomprehensible even to people in the US.

    • by NicBenjamin ( 2124018 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @06:05AM (#50539233)

      University of North Dakota's sports teams nickname was the "Fighting Sioux," a reference to the Sioux tribe that owned the state before the white man came. It's considered a bit dickish fort white conquerers to name their sports teams after their conquests, so the body governing college sports ordered them to come up with a new one or get permission from the Sioux. The bands on one reservation voted yes, the other reservation refused to hold a vote, so UND had to change it's nickname.

      Which led to a convoluted bureaucratic process which die-hard fans do their best to derail in futile hope that the regulators (the NCAA) or the recalcitrant Sioux on that other reservation will give up and let them go back to being the Fighting Sioux.

      This troll is apparently one of them, and he's trademarked the most likely new nicknames.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I marvel that you put that much effort into describing this worthless article.

        • Didn't bother reading the article.

          I just follow college sports in the US, with a particular interest in Ice Hockey; and the UND Ice Hockey team is actually quite good. There's lots of news about what those guys will get called.

      • by Panoptes ( 1041206 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @07:57AM (#50539621)

        "This troll is apparently one of them, and he's trademarked the most likely new nicknames"

        If he threatens legal action, tell him to Sioux and be damned.

      • This troll is apparently one of them, and he's trademarked the most likely new nicknames.

        They should change their name to the Haakenson-Fuckers.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @08:47AM (#50539855) Homepage

        Which is fine, as long as he is a university sports association, of course if he is not, than the trademark just shows a dick with no understanding of law being a dick. So blocked not so much and courts will toss it out.

      • You mean the way they named the ENTIRE state after a subgroup of that tribe?

        What they ought to do is just rename the team the "Fighting Dakotans", since the NCAA has already ruled that they can continue to use the word Dakota.
        • They should change their name to the Fighting Sues. They can use an old lady with hair curlers in a bathrobe holding a rolling pin menacingly as their mascot. Something kind of like this [] maybe.
  • Haakenson said he registered the trade names in an attempt to interfere...

    That should count as Trademark infringement right there - even if the legitimate user hadn't registered or even decided the name yet.

    • No, it shouldn't. There is no trademark that can be infringed yet, so there can be no trademark infringement.

      • by jrumney ( 197329 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @05:03AM (#50539069)
        Except that we have an insider who uses the knowledge that the future use of a trademark is under consideration, and registers it purely with the intent of interfering. I think it would be a useful deterrent for the law to treat this as infringement despite the fact that the malicious registrant beat the legitimate user to the punch. Likewise for patents - patent holders who register vague patents for obvious future inventions without the intention or even technical knowhow to actually produce a working invention should get their own claims for damages thrown back at them.
      • by Holi ( 250190 )
        Don't trademarks require a declaration of use? I mean you can't just get a trademark and not use it, it's not like a patent.
    • If he was being serious then, yes, I might agree. But unless I'm reading this situation completely wrong, it's a guy trying to troll a rival school. I'd bet he knows he won't actually get to keep the trademarks, and is just trying to give some shit to a rival school. If so, he's thrown away a bit of money, but no real harm was done. It reminds me of the time someone registered and made it redirect to That's probably the only clever thing a kU grad has ever done, and it's actually pretty da

      • by jrumney ( 197329 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @05:12AM (#50539093)
        So you're saying that abusing legal processes should be OK if it's just done for a laugh?
        • If he actually was granted the trademarks and tried to defend them, then yes, he should face a penalty for wasting someone's money in a frivolous lawsuit. In this particular case, that would be the money of North Dakota taxpayers who fund UND. But simply trying to register the trademarks, which really should be denied, really isn't hurting anyone. He's throwing away some of his own money, but that's about it. I highly doubt he's serious about defending the trademarks in court, and I think he's just saying t

      • who would type mizzouinto his address bar?

      • by camg188 ( 932324 )
        Not quite. He's not from a rival school and he's not trolling. He's an alumnus who likes the old name and is trying to block the new names by trademarking them and denying their use to the school.
        From the fn article: "Haakenson, who attended North Dakota State University but says he's a supporter of the Fighting Sioux nickname..."
        • UND and NDSU are, indeed, rivals. There's actually a trophy for the rivalry, called the Nickel Trophy. Haakenson did actually attend NDSU, as your quote says. However, I'm obviously wrong about his motivations here since the article says as much and I clearly just skimmed the article or didn't pick up on it due to lack of sleep. I'm a little embarrassed about being dead wrong and posting more than once about it.

          It's a waste of public money to actually defend this through trademarks. It's doomed to failure.

        • Not quite. He's not from a rival school and he's not trolling. He's an alumnus...

          University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University are not the same school.

  • Like this guy in volunteering for a campus-wide beatdown.

    Or maybe having his car reassembled in his living room some night.

    Or having all the locks on his house and car threadlocked.

    • Actually, I read TFA, just because the whole thing didn't seem to make any sense to me. It turns out that the University of North Dakota nickname was "The Fighting Sioux". The NCAA ordered them to change the nickname, probably because of complaints from the Sioux Nation, but a lot of folks still want to keep the old nickname. A committee came up with a few dorky suggestions, so some guy who wants to keep the old nickname trademarked the new suggestions to block the change.

      In the US, the University of No

      • That's close, but not quite correct.

        The NCAA ordered all schools using Native American nicknames to change otherwise they would face certain penalties from the NCAA. The exception is for schools with the support of local tribes, which is how Florida State gets to be the Seminoles and, I believe, Utah gets to stay the Utes. UND wasn't so lucky as the Sioux didn't give their blessing to continued use of the name.

        The guy registering the trademarks is actually an ND State grad (source: []

      • Are university nicknames somehow mandated by law? Or why are they searching for one? Searching a mascott, ok. But there's nothing more pathetic that someone trying to give himself a nickname.

        • In the US, the name of the university football team is used as the nickname and the mascot. So, for example, the Princeton's football team are called the "Tigers". At a game, someone will dress up in a tiger suit and bounce around with the cheerleaders as the mascot. The university also uses the tiger theme to give the students common identity, and after you graduate, the university will send you letters asking for donations. Which are decorated by little tiger logos. Animals are popular nicknames.


  • I suppose it's trolling, in the sense of trying to troll a rival intrastate school. I'm assuming UND and North Dakota State have a rivalry, as is the case in many states. The NCAA has cracked down on the use of Native American names for collegiate teams. Florida State gets to remain the Seminoles and I think Utah can stay the Utes. But many other schools haven't been able to keep their names, and UND is one of them. This guy is trying to register many potential names in order to keep his rival school from c

  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Thursday September 17, 2015 @04:51AM (#50539037) Homepage

    Trademark Trolls Stops University Nicknames

    Trademark and patent trolls have even found there way

  • You do not choose your own Nickname - it is what someone starts calling you, others follow suite and the name 'sticks'. Also it is an unofficial name. In any case, a trademark only applies to specified 'trades', and it is possible for different companies to register the same trademark for different uses - for example 'Apple' records and computers. So, unless these trolls are educational establishments, their registration of the trademarks (in other areas) would not prevent the University from using it.

    • In this case, nicknames are the names used by the school's athletic teams in intercollegiate athletics. My school, the University of Missouri, competes under the name Tigers. For large universities, it's actually one of the most recognizable aspects of the school for the general public. I'll bet most people not from Missouri or who didn't attend the school don't know much about them academically. But if they follow college sports at all, they've probably heard of the Missouri Tigers.

      However, a few schools d

    • by tomhath ( 637240 )
      Apparently you didn't RTFA, bacause that was explained (Roughriders is one of the nicknames under consideration):

      On the North Dakota Secretary of State's website, there are five registered entities in good standing that include Roughriders, including a motorcycle club, an apothecary and a welding company.

  • > replacement nicknames for "Fightin' Sioux" trademarked

    So some scammer pre-registered "The Not-Fightin' Self-Abasing European-DNA'd Getalongers"? Rats!

  • And I'll admit I'm not a lawyer, I don't see how this works. You can't trademark in a vacuum; you have to be trademarking the name of a product. That's why it's called a "trademark". And what's more, a trademark only covers trying to sell the same type of product under that name (which is why you can have Apple Records and Apple Computer). So unless this guy owns a university and is trademarking nicknames for it, I don't see how this can interfere with UND at all.

    • Well, there are two ways this works. First, the University does a search of existing trademarks, find that this one is trademarked and moves on. Second, the University wants to sell rights to use the name chosen to lots of different people selling lots of different things. This latter only works if someone else is not already using this trademark in that area.
      That being said, this guy's plan only looks like it works if the University committee is not aware of what they are doing (or wants to use it as an e
    • This. Trademarks are a lot tougher to enforce than patents and copyrights. (1) You have to actually be using it yourself or it's considered abandoned, and (2) it only applies to a certain product. So unless the person who registered the trademark is running a university which is actively using all the trademarked names he registered, he's going to be laughed out of court if he tries to prevent a university from using just one.
    • According to the article, the trademarks were filed as "Real Estate - Personal." So as long as UND does not use those terms for real estate Haakenson just wasted his money.

  • ...both people who might possibly care what the nickname of UND is?

    Excellent decision by the bands who refused to vote.

  • Why is there no requirement to use registered names within X days to keep the trademark? What's stopping some rich guy from trademarking a whole crap load of fun-sounding buzzwords with 0 intent of actually ever using them?
  • >> even found there way in complicating a

    I'm seeing this error so frequently now in written American English that I'm genuinely wondering if US schools don't bother teaching or enforcing the difference between "their" and "there" any more. Is this actually true?

  • This has nothing at all to do with trademarks. The ex-mayor of Bismarck registered several trade names, which are not the same thing as trademarks. UND does business as UND and not as the nickname of the school, so all Haakenson has done is make a fool of himself, this won't affect anything if UND happens to pick a school nickname that is the same as one of the trade names registered.

The wages of sin are high but you get your money's worth.