72°F
weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Bill Foley learning valuable lesson in selecting team name

No matter what Bill Foley winds up calling his Las Vegas NHL expansion team, he will have learned a valuable lesson: It’s a lot more complicated to get the naming rights and trademark for a sports team than just creating a clever name.

Las Vegas attorney Mark Tratos, who has spent 35 years dealing with sports and entertainment law, empathizes with Foley. He understands the challenges in today’s world with the Internet in trying to secure domain name rights as well as trademark and copyright rights for a team.

“It’s a lot more difficult now,” Tratos said. “You’re competing with people you don’t know who are trying to secure the domain name for themselves so they own it and you have to come to them. I think (Foley) has seen that with some of the names he was considering.

“It’s one of the most frustrating things, trying to secure names and images. One thing that has complicated his approach is he publicly stated his desired names and people went in there and grabbed the domain names to variations of those names. I’m sure he’d like to do things more privately but that’s not so easy to do.”

Joe Guagliardo of the Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton and specializes in trademark law, said it’s easy to understand why Foley is frustrated.

“The challenge is finding a name that isn’t being used or isn’t taken,” he said. “A lot of businesses have that problem, not just pro sports teams. Finding a name is hard and it requires a lot of searching and digging to make sure you’re not in conflict with someone.”

Foley said despite the hiccups, the process is now moving quickly.

“We are in the final process of securing the name preferred by our Hockey Club and we have the league’s support,” Foley said in an email Thursday.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in an email Thursday the league is working with the team on its identity and has not had any objection from any of the other 30 NHL teams.

“We have been vetting a number of different names and identities,” Daly said. “None of our discussions have implicated or required any other club involvement.”

Tratos said the keys to not being in violation of trademark or copyright law is to have numerous meanings to your name or by adding a prefix of suffix to it. In the case of “Las Vegas Knights” it could be used with or without the K or by adding the prefix “Silver” or “Neon” to the name, where it wouldn’t conflict with the London Knights, a junior hockey team located in Canada.

“You can spell Knights in a different fashion,” Tratos said. “The nice thing about Knights is it can be used with a K or an N; at least as it pertains to Las Vegas.”

Tratos said the tricky part is the domain name. He’s aware of those lurking in the shadows trying to make a quick buck off a company by grabbing the rights to a name or trademark even though they have no intention of using it themselves.

“That’s why it’s important to do things as quietly as possible,” he said. “In this case, when you have a major league professional sports team, that’s easier said than done. I’m sure (Foley) doesn’t want to get into fights over domain names and trademarks.”

Tratos said he likes the name Las Vegas Nighthawks, a name Foley’s company, Black Knight Sports and Entertainment, does own.

“It’s nice to make the association with the city,” he said of the name, which has a double meaning — a bird indigenous to the area and a stealth fighter warplane that was tested at Groom Lake and commissioned at the Tonopah Test Range, 140 miles north of Las Vegas. “I’m sure (Chicago) Blackhawks fans don’t like it because it sounds similar. But the truth is, they don’t look the same or have the same meaning.

“So unless the Chicago team or the NHL has a real problem with it, I don’t see it legally being a problem if he calls his team the Nighthawks.”

Contact Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow on Twitter: @stevecarprj

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Golden Knights Videos
Golden Knights' Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny Host Street Hockey Clinic for Kids - Video
Golden Knights forwards Max Pacioretty and Paul Stastny hosted a street hockey clinic for local kids on Monday, Nov. 18 at Doc Pearson Community Center.
Golden Knights fans shut out of free doughnuts - VIDEO
Golden Knights fans drove up to Krispy Kreme stores on Monday morning, Nov. 18, 2019, but the stores were closed. Company officials said the promotion with the Golden Knights for fans with tickets to get free doughnuts with a shutout win at home will be honored through Sunday. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal @EliPagePhoto)
Golden Knights fans denied doughnuts morning after shutout - VIDEO
Golden Knights fan Todd Levings was out of luck when he tried to get his free doughnuts Monday, Nov. 18, 2019, at a Krispy Kreme store. When the Golden Knights have a shutout win at home, the doughnut chain gives a dozen free doughnuts to fans who present tickets from the game. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights Movie Premier Remembers Why the City is 'Vegas Strong' - Video
Golden Knights fans will be treated to an exclusive viewing of 'Valiant,' on Sunday, Nov. 17. The documentary highlights the Vegas Golden Knights' remarkable run to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final after the team unified Las Vegas in wake of tragedy.
Golden Edge Mailbag | November 14th, 2019
The Review-Journal's Ben Gotz and Adam Hill are back for a new rendition of the Golden Edge mailbag! Send in your VGK questions, and they'll answer them live on the stream.
Golden Knights to honor "Miracle on Ice" team
The Golden Knights will honor the 1980 USA Olympic men’s hockey team on the 40th anniversary of its “Miracle on Ice” victory against the Soviet Union next year. On Feb. 22, a public event with the 1980 team will take place at the Thomas & Mack Center that will include video of never-before-seen moments from its implausible run at Lake Placid, New York. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Alex Tuch Returns to Practice After Second Injury - Video
Golden Knights right wing Alex Tuch returned to practice on Tuesday afternoon. Tuch missed the last four games due to an upper-body injury sustained in the team’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Nov. 3.
Golden Knights Know They Need to Play More Dominant Style of Hockey - Video
The Golden Knights recent road trip turned out to be an unsuccessful one, as the team went 1-3 away from home. Golden Knights forward Alex Tuch says one of the problems lately has been that his team is just trying to win games, instead of completely dominating their opponents.
Alex Tuch And Nate Schmidt Return To The Ice - Video
Alex Tuch and Nate Schmidt return to practice as the team becomes more energized after their win against the Anaheim Ducks.
Golden Knights Watch Party At Las Vegas Ballpark - Video
The Golden Knights host a watch party at the Las Vegas Ballpark where fans gathered to watch the game against the Pittsburg Penguins.
Golden Edge Mailbag | October 17th, 2019
The Review-Journal's Ben Gotz and Cassie Soto are back for a new rendition of the Golden Edge mailbag! Send in your VGK questions, and they'll answer them live on the stream.
Malcom Subban Day-To-Day, Gallant Talks Golden Knights' Goaltenders - VIDEO
After suffering an undisclosed lower body injury in a loss to the Arizona Coyotes, Golden Knights goaltender Malcolm Subban was announced as having a day-to-day injury when head coach Gerard Gallant spoke about his goaltenders after practice.
Golden Knights lose 4-1 to Coyotes - VIDEO
The Golden Knights lost 4-1 to the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale. VGK Goalie Malcolm Subban exited the game early with an injury and is Day-to-day.
Golden Knights Head Coach Gerard Gallant knows Coyotes are "very aggressive" - Video
The Golden Knights will head to Arizona to face the Coyotes on Thursday with hopes to bounce back from Tuesday's 4-3 loss to the Bruins. Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant is fully aware that the Coyotes are a very aggressive team and knows his guys will have to match that speed.
Golden Knights Feast on Shark - Video
After swimming with (and defeating) the Sharks in their first two games of the season, the entire Vegas Golden Knights team feasted on their fair share of seafood at Zuma Las Vegas inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Golden Knights Greet Fans At Gold Carpet - Video
The Golden Knights walk the gold carpet before puck drop at their season opener against the San Jose Sharks at the T-Mobile Arena.
Golden Knights Hold Private Practice, Lunch for 1 October First Responders - Video
The Golden Knights held a private practice at City National Arena for first responders, Mandalay Bay employees and guests who were affected by the 1 October events. After practice, guests were able to meet the Golden Knights themselves to take pictures and get autographs.
Golden Knights Prepare to Honor Those Affected by 1 October - VIDEO
Golden Knights General Manager Kelly McCrimmon discusses the teams upcoming practice which will honor those affected by the events on October 1, 2017. The team has invited guests including first responders, Mandalay Bay employees and others who were impacted. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon Discusses Roster Updates - VIDEO
Golden Knights General Manager Kelly McCrimmon discusses the teams roster and key injuries ahead of Opening Day (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Golden Knights Max Pacioretty on the Golden Edge Podcast - VIDEO
Vegas Golden Knights forward Max Pacioretty joins the Golden Edge podcast to talk about the upcoming season for the Knights, the rivalry with the Sharks and the Pacioretty 67 burger.
Golden Knights Alex Tuch, Cody Eakin Injured in Preseason Loss to Kings
The Golden Knights not only lost to the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Friday night, the team also saw Alex Tuch and Cody Eakin head off the ice with injuries. Golden Edge host Cassie Soto and Golden Knights beat writers David Schoen and Ben Gotz give an update on the players injuries as well as discuss what went wrong for the Golden Knights.
Golden Knights Suffer Second Preseason Loss to the Kings - Video
The Golden Knights suffered the team's second loss of the preseason, this time to the LA Kings 3-2. Head coach Gerard Gallant knows his team got off to a sloppy start but was impressed with the final effort.
Golden Knights Forward Ryan Reaves wants to play in the pre-season - VIDEO
Golden Knights Forward Ryan Reaves talks about coming back from an injury and a possible long term deal with the team. September 26, 2019.
Golden Knights Head Coach Gallant speaks on injuries and cuts before last two pre-season games - VIDEO
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant speaks after practice on September 26, 2019, on injuries and cuts before last two pre-season games.
Golden Knights Suffer First Preseason Loss to Avalanche, 4-1 - Video
The Golden Knights suffered the team's first preseason loss, after falling to the Avalanche 4-1. Golden Edge host Cassie Soto and Golden Knights beat writers David Schoen and Ben Gotz break down what went wrong for the Golden Knights.
Golden Knights React to First Preseason Loss - Video
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant called the first loss of the preseason a "team loss" that was "tough to watch."
Paul Stastny On Playing More Games - Video
Golden Knights forward Paul Stastny talks about preparing for the regular season and playing more games before the season starts.
Golden Knights Nate Schmidt Talks About Seeking Change With PED Testing - Video
The Golden Knights wrap up their practice for the day and Nate Schmidt hoping to see changes to PED testing.
Nate Schmidt On Wanting Change With PED Testing - Video
Nate Schmidt speaks about wanting to see change with PED testing in the NHL.
Fleury and Marchessault Play Heads Up - Video
Golden Knights Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Jonathan Marchessault play heads up VGK edition.
Aliens invade City National Arena for competition - VIDEO
Aliens attended the City National Arena for a competition to see who was best dressed. The prize was out of this world. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights rally to beat Kings in OT, 3-2
The Golden Knights were down 2-0 halfway through the third period, but two quick goals helped get the team back on track to beat the Kings 3-2 in overtime.
Golden Knights' Deryk Engelland Shares Advice with Rookies - Video
Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland has some advice for rookies: “Stick with what got you there.” The veteran NHL player also recalls his first goal as a pro.
Golden Knights Continue Preseason Success with Win Over Avalanche - Video
The Golden Knights prospects are continuing to prove they are worthy of a starting position, this time with a shutout 5-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche.
THE LATEST