Early Utah Hockey Trademark Thoughts: Utah HC?


I said last week that I expected the search for what was then a potential NHL Utah team name to be much different than what we’ve seen in the past and that’s already proving to be true.

Since then, the NHL Board of Governors has met and officially voted to establish a new franchise in Salt Lake City, Utah, with the hockey operations assets of the Arizona Coyotes transferred to the new team.  New owner Ryan Smith said the team was likely to first take the ice in generic jerseys.

That said, I’ve been monitoring domain name registrations and trademark applications, and something somewhat interesting came up today.  I almost ignored it but after discussing it over at Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Community, it’s so different from the norm that I think it’s worth noting, even if it’s nothing.

On Tuesday, applications were filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office for trademarks on the following names:

Utah Blizzard
Utah Venom
Utah Fury
Utah HC
Utah Hockey Club

All of those have matching domain registrations that were made last week – anonymously, of course – and all of the domain registrations except for Blizzard seem to have been made by the same group.

A set of trademark applications for Utah and hockey-related marks on April 16.

I said that we should expect to see more anonymity involved in potential team names this time around and what sticks out about this group is the level of anonymity they seem to be going for.

Speaking anecdotally, domain squatting attempts are easy to remain anonymous for but it’s harder with trademark squatting.  Trademark applications are in a public database and require an address and name attached to them.  You can hide behind an LLC but that’s another level of paperwork where you’re expected to name an actual person – a registered agent – who can respond on behalf of the company.

For example, back when the now-Washington Commanders were rebranding, there was someone who filed trademark applications for many of the names the team was thought to be interested in using.  He did so using an LLC but that LLC’s address was his home address.

What makes Tuesday’s trademark application’s interesting is that someone spent some serious money to remain completely anonymous.

The trademark applications were filed by Catherine P. Lake of global law firm Dorsey & Whitney, out of their Salt Lake City office.  The address attached to the applications is that office’s address.  Dorsey & Whitney is probably not in the business of enabling trademark squatters and, even if they were, their work probably doesn’t come cheap.

The applications were filed on behalf of “Uyte, LLC,” which was incorporated in Delaware on April 2.  Uyte, whoever they are, doesn’t have a personal condo as their address.  In fact, they’re shelling out even more money to Dutch information services company Wolters Kluwer via their Corporation Trust Company subsidiary.  CT serves as the registered agent for Uyte, providing another layer of anonymity.

I’m not saying that Uyte is Smith Entertainment Group or that these names are what will be used.  I can’t say that because of the efforts make by Uyte to remain anonymous.  All I’m saying is that this would be a lot of money for a trademark squatter to spend.  It’s not impossible for that to be the case but, if it is, it would just go to show how much things have changed with regards to that.

Another thing worth noting is that, as was pointed out in the comments to my post last week, “Utah Fury” is the name of a team in a series of hockey romance books.  Given that “Seattle Sockeyes” ran into the same issue, I find it funny to see that come up again.

Personally, if I were Smith, I’d see if I could buy the ECHL Utah Grizzlies.  Remove some competition and carry forward an existing brand.  I have no idea how feasible that is, though.

Update, 4:28 PM: As noted by ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski literally minutes after this was originally posted, Ryan Smith hinted that the team may use a generic name for its first season. The “Utah Hockey Club” and “Utah HC” trademarks would cover that.

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