Who Dat say you can't use Who Dat?
As the Saints march toward the Super Bowl, there's a chill in the midst of the Who Dat Nation. The National Football League has issued cease and desist orders to various local merchants, including infractions as small as a fleur de lis in the middle of the "o" in #whodat. When you're covering something this important to the city, you go to the source. As far as trademarks for “WhoDat?” is concerned, that’s Sal & Steve Monistere.Apparently there are many who want to be in that number when the Saints go marching into the Superbowl. Who Dat going to say they can't? The NFL I guess. It is not clear that they ever paid Monistere for his trademark. If they did not their claim maybe suspect. As for the fleru de lis, I think that is a symbol imported from France. It is not clear that anyone would have the right to trademark it, but if they did, I think it is limited to a specific use having to do with the team.
Steve recorded the Who Dat chant in 1983, and using that chant, he recorded the original "Who Dat" single with members of the Saints offensive line and singer Aaron Neville. Then, together, the Monistere brothers immediately embarked on one of the most ingenious marketing campaigns in sports history. And the Who Dat Nation was born.
Steve Monistere, a founding member of New Orleans' own party band The Topcats, read about the recent NFL actions regarding the use of Who Dat on NewOrleans.com. "I had heard about the cease and desist, and had seen this article," Monistere said. When reading the online user comments, he mentioned that "the third from the top is right on." (That comment describes the Monistere's hit song and the registration for trademarks of Who Dat).
Intellectual property is a thorny issue, and WhoDat?, Inc. has dealt with it often over the years. As trademark owners, the Monistere’s are not arguing whether or not a trademark has to be protected, but they do take issue with the way the NFL is going after small local business in a difficult economic time.
"Sure, a fleur de lis can belong to the Saints, but in very specific usage, and everybody knows what that is," Monistere explained. "If you go back to 1967, to date, they have registered and used the fleur de lis in a very specific way. They put it on the Saints helmet and on the Saints ‘shield.’ Its colors are very specific – they’re ‘old gold and black.’ But for the NFL to expand that definition and say that no matter what color and what style of fleur de lis, if you put it on an item, it means Saints, it is, as many believe, is just not correct. The fleur de lis belongs to everyone including the people of New Orleans.