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A New Level of Intellectual Property Theft - "Knicklyn"?


Gothamite

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Readers of Uni Watch read this morning that an enterprising Brooklyn man is being sued by the NBA for infringing on the Knicks' name and Nets' new secondary logo:

NBA bullies Knicks fan from Brooklyn over his 'Knicklyn' Web site, apparel

A diehard Knick fan from Brooklyn is crying foul over the NBA’s treatment of his loyalist Web site, Knicklyn.

Amid the hype around his Manhattan team’s rivalry with the new Brooklyn Nets, Mike Sorisi, 26, created an online fan base for Knicks loyalists such as himself who live in Brooklyn, home to its first new major-league sports team in more than 50 years.

Sorisi coined the term “Knicklyn” to represent fans whose loyalty may be divided between the Knicks, one of the league’s original franchises, and the Nets in Brooklyn, one of the city’s most pride-filled boroughs.

Sorisi designed a clever logo to go with the moniker and started selling hats and stickers.

Days later, the NBA unleashed a full-court press ordering him to cease and desist, claiming trademark infringement, he said.

“I kind of feel like I’m being bullied,” Sorisi said. “I’m one person operating this thing, and I need to sell goods to cover my costs.”

The NBA said Sorisi’s use of the word “Knick” is a trademark infringement, as is his logo which features a basketball that is similar to the Nets’ design.

The NBA threw its first elbow just days after Sorisi’s site went live.

“I was shocked at how fast I was contacted,” Sorisi said.

But there it was in his inbox, a missive from the National Bullies Association ordering him to shut down sales — or else.

“Your unauthorized use of NBA Intellectual Property is an attempt to capitalize on the fame and goodwill of NBA Intellectual Property — including the ‘Knicks’ name and the ‘Nets’ logo,” the league told Sorisi in the e-mail.

The note warned him to stop selling his popular hats and stickers and deliver any unsold products to the NBA.

But Sorisi said the charge is an air ball.

“They don’t own a trademark on circles,” Sorisi said. “There’s a Knickerbocker Avenue that runs through Brooklyn. They don’t own that word.”

The issue, he said, is representing fans in a unique market.

“ ‘Knicklyn’ has provided an identity for many fans like myself whose loyalty remains with the New York Knicks despite having a Brooklyn address,” Sorisi said. “Brooklyn is my home. New York is my team.”

An NBA rep said in a statement, “We have been in direct communication with the owner of the site to singularly address the sale of unlicensed merchandise using NBA trademarks, which violates league and team intellectual-property rights.

“There has been no demand for compensation or for the shutdown of his Web site.”

Here's the logo he "created":

Knicklyn-logo-and-hat-f.jpg

He obviously ran the Nets' secondary logo through a vector trace program (look at the seams) and re-colored the result. Couldn't even be bothered to remove the negative space created by the "B".

brooklyn_nets_logo_detail_secondary.jpg

He might have been able to make a case for parody, but selling merchandise? To "cover (his) costs"? Good on the NBA for shutting him down. And shame on the Post. Again.

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Yeah, you don't get any more blatant than that. I can kinda see why some uneducated moron might think that what he did was okay, but how the heck can a professional news outlet think that what he did was legal? He could probably have gotten away with calling it satire or parody if he wasn't profiting off it in any way, but selling merch? Come on, there is only one way this will end.

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That's pretty clear-cut. And really, he would have had to do very little to be in the clean. Just use a clipart basketball (titled differently) and put a circle around it. I doubt they would have gone after him for selling "Knicklyn" gear had he not infringed on the logo to begin with.

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Usually when I read these stories (like a college threatening a high school), I do have some sympathy for the high school and would hope the college would be a little less of a bully or work with the school to license the logo properly.

But this guy is nuts if he thinks this logo is ok to sell on merch.

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Maybe. Assuming what he's going to "get" is simply having to cease and desist. This is clear cut infringement, but it seems to have been done out of ignorance to the law (not that that's an excuse) with VERY little benefit gained (relatively speaking).

As long as he stops, it's not like he deserves thrown in jail. You could require him to refund the profits to the NBA. I'm not sure if they'll pursue it to that extent. Probably not worth their time as long as he abides by the C&D notice.

Had he started a website and simply an organization for fans, he'd probably have been fine (as in the league probably wouldn't have pursued it). Certainly with the name—probably even with the terrible logo. Making gear would have pushed the limits. Selling it put him beyond them.

The worst part of this whole thing is news outlets suggesting the league is doing something wrong.

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Gotcha. Yeah, then you're spot on. I mean I have no idea if he'll actually have to forfeit it or not as I don't know how these cases tend to go (specifically refer to small & young operations like this), but no doubt C&D and forfeiting his sales is a fair & deserved punishment.

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You know its odd but I don't have a problem with people doing the parody stuff, but don't act all innocent when you get called on it. Take your C&D, stop making stuff and take your lumps. Don't act like the person that owns the logo is in the wrong.

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True enough. Although he is being aided by the New York Post, the official paper of white middle-class resentment.

While we're bring down the hammer on unauthorized merchandise riffing off of NYC-area sports teams, go take down the makers of this:

BSB-LOGO!JILLY-1679.jpg

found at http://www.shopjilly...ullies Logo Tee

I'm not even sure why anybody would want this. No Ranger fan would touch it, for a Philadelphian it would be like admitting that your rivals have a much cooler logo than yours, and it's not clever enough to be ironic for a hockey fan in general (It's not a play on the Rangers' slogan, so why the mashup with Philly?). So is the target audience people who don't actually know what it means?

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You know its odd but I don't have a problem with people doing the parody stuff, but don't act all innocent when you get called on it. Take your C&D, stop making stuff and take your lumps. Don't act like the person that owns the logo is in the wrong.

But since most people don't understand the whole concept of intellectual property in the least bit, all you'll hear is:

OMG THE BIG BAD LEAGUE MAKES MILLIONS OF DOLLARS WHY GO AFTER THE LITTLE GUY TRYING TO MAKE A BUCK !!!11!11!1

*Comic Sans used to make a point that most people are idiots. I didn't make any spelling errors though so it's not that accurate I guess.

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I'm not saying I support the guy, but I definitely don't side with Knicks or Nets in this either.

Is for the guy to capitalize on the logo and brand image from two teams to help form his own image with no compensation given to the two teams? Yeah I don't think you can argue that its not.

But at the same time, maybe if these teams weren't jacking up the prices of their merchandise and in the case of the NFL trying to monopolize their merchandise, maybe you wouldn't have as many of these vendors producing items like this.

I'm not saying he's in right, but I'm not siding with somebody who's against it mainly because it goes against their goal of vertical integration.

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The NFL did the opposite of monopolizing their merchandising with the new agreement with Nike/New Era/Fifth&Ocean/Pink/Twins/VF/47 Brand/Junk Food/Quiksilver.

There might be more but yeah...its not a monopoly nor was it ever. Reebok had certain things they were exclusive on like headwear but you could find plenty of non-reebok apparel out there.

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This has absolutely nothing to do with leagues pricing their merchandise out of the market. To the extent such an argument is valid, it's in support of counterfeiting, which this is not.

I'm definitely not going to say the guy was in the right on any level, but when pro sports franchises stop sticking taxpayers with the bill for their palaces, I might start feeling bad about the money they lose because of counterfitting.

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This has absolutely nothing to do with leagues pricing their merchandise out of the market. To the extent such an argument is valid, it's in support of counterfeiting, which this is not.

I'm definitely not going to say the guy was in the right on any level, but when pro sports franchises stop sticking taxpayers with the bill for their palaces, I might start feeling bad about the money they lose because of counterfitting.

MSG is privately owned and the renovation was privately financed. (They do get a major major tax concession though). The Barclay's Center also was privately financed, though that weasel Ratner did get eminent domain invoked.

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