Would 'Leafs by Snoop' sell as well by any other name? Rapper Snoop Dogg may soon find out as MLSE - the parent company of the National Hockey League's Toronto Maple Leafs - is preparing to drop the gloves with the Doggfather in court.
According to TSN's Rick Westhead, MLSE filed an opposition to the logo for Snoop's line of marijuana and cannabis-related products earlier this month. The exact basis of their objection is unknown as they've requested more time to submit a detailed opposition.
Snoop's logo features a seven-pointed leaf with 'Leafs by Snoop' written overtop in white letters. The Toronto hockey club's logo features a leaf with 31 points and similar white lettering overtop. The hockey team uses 'Leafs' instead of 'leaves' because they are named after the Maple Leaf Regiment - a Canadian fighting unit in the First World War (1914-1918). Snoop's reason for using 'Leafs' isn't known.
So there is some similarity between the two trademarks, but is it enough for MLSE to argue that consumers might confuse one brand for another?
Both MLSE's and Snoop Dogg's respective spokespeople declined to comment on the story. So TSN turned to Christopher Sprigman - a professor at the New York University School of Law who specializes in issues of intellectual property. Dr. Sprigman isn't convinced MLSE has a case.
"The Maple Leafs might say that their brand has been tarnished by confusion over Snoop's new logo. That's quaint but a tough argument. I don't see a lot of overlap between Colorado pot smokers and Maple Leafs fans."
And they'll have a tough time proving that enough people know about the Leafs logo to confuse it with Snoop's.
"The Maple Leafs would have to successfully argue that the general U.S. consuming public, elderly adults, young adults and children across the country, are familiar with and identify with the Leafs logo. I don't think that's true. Maybe in hockey markets, but I really don't see the Leafs being a familiar brand in Iowa or Arkansas or other non-hockey cities."
So the court case might end up being more fodder for hockey fans who like to mock the Leafs for never winning anything.
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