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Trademark licensing hall of shame: why trademark owners need to monitor their licensees

August 27, 2007
Post by Blog Staff

Owners of trademarks should take care that they control how licensees use their marks. This should be common knowledge for most trademark owners, as inconsistent or unauthorized use of a trademark can dilute its distinctiveness, and in extreme cases, cause loss of rights.

The owners of one of the most famous trademark brands, the New York Yankees, have found out that monitoring licensees closely can also avoid public relations problems. According to reports, an official licensee of the Yankees and Major League Baseball, New Era, who produces baseball caps, produced three "non-traditional" baseball caps featuring the Yankees logo. The problem? — The caps incorporated the symbols or colors associated with three prominent street gangs, the Bloods, the Crips, and the Latin Kings.

According to the report:

"Companies involved should not profit from the promotion of gang affiliation, which leads only to gang violence," the activists, who call themselves the Coalition to Protect Our Children, said in a statement. The coalition is concerned that unsuspecting kids could buy one of the hats, wear it in the wrong turf and then be targeted for attack.

The group marched Thursday in East Harlem to try to pressure local shops into pulling the caps from their shelves.

In case trademark owners needed more reason to monitor use of their marks (other than possible loss of rights), they have one now.

Photos of the caps in question after the jump.

Yankees caps with gang symbols

From left to right caps with colors or symbols referencing the Bloods, the Latin Kings, and the Crips.

Hat tip: Counterfeit Chic.


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