The US Army Gets Armistice With NHL Team Over ‘Golden Knights’ Trademark

NHL fans will likely still have fresh in their minds the surprising rookie season of the Las Vegas Golden Knights, an expansion team that took the league by storm and lost in the Stanley Cup finals. Readers here may remember the team more for the fairly odd trademark dispute it was in with the — checks notes — United States Army, which for some reason opposed the team’s trademark application due to the Army’s college and paratrooping teams that go by the same name.

At the time, we pointed out that the opposition seemed worrisome for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it seems plainly ridiculous for the Army to suggest that anyone was going to be confused between its college teams, its paratrooping team, and an NHL franchise. Was anyone really worried about the public thinking that the United States military had suddenly gotten into the professional hockey business? But we added to that the gross nature of a branch of the United States military, with a long and storied and proud tradition, dabbling in trademark bullying for apparently no legitimate reason.

Which makes the announcement by the Vegas Golden Knights of a coexistence settlement disappointing.

Vegas Golden Knights Chairman and CEO Bill Foley announced today that the Vegas Golden Knights and the U.S. Army have entered into a trademark coexistence agreement regarding usage of the ‘Golden Knights’ mark and name.

“We are pleased that we have agreed to coexist regarding the use of the ‘Golden Knights’ mark and name,” said Foley. “Our discussions with the Army were collaborative and productive throughout this entire process. We are appreciative of their efforts and commitment to reaching an amicable resolution.”

It appears that the specific terms of the settlement aren’t being made public. So we don’t know, for instance, whether any money has changed hands here, whether a licensing agreement with the Army is now in place (likely), or whether the Army got anything else out of the arrangement. But all of that is besides the point. The real point here is that the Army brought this opposition to a resolution that didn’t involve it backing away from it entirely, leaving in place the gross feeling of a military branch meddling in the trademark affairs of a private business on shaky, if any, basis.

These settlements that don’t clearly define what is wrong with these types of conflicts are a direct output of our permission culture. The Army participating in this permission culture is a clear, and unfortunate, sign that this sort of thing continues to be pervasive.

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