'Who Dat' ownership battle set for conference Oct. 7

Alejandro De Los Rios Sep. 9, 2010, 6:51am

A scheduling conference has been set for Oct. 7 in a suit between parties fighting over who has ownership of the term "Who Dat."

In March, New Orleans attorney Darleen Jacobs filed a petition for declaratory judgment in Orleans Parish Civil District Court against Sal Monistere - who has claimed ownership of the phrase "Who Dat," associated with the New Orleans Saints - claiming that "no one owns the phrase 'Who Dat'."

Magistrate Judge Christine Noland is overseeing the case. The conference will address damages, discovery and establish a possible trial date, among other logistical issues.

The suit was originally filed on behalf of Who Dat Yat Chat LLC, a cafe opened outside of New Orleans with a trademarked name registered in May 2007. The plaintiffs claim that they received a notice in March 2010 from Monistere stating that Who Dat? Inc. is "the sole owner of the phrase 'Who Dat' and all derivations thereof."

A search in United States Patent and Trademark Office's Trademark Electronic Search System reveals that 28 trademarks have been filed that use the phrase 'Who Dat' in some capacity, 18 of which are still live.

Monistere and Who Dat? Inc. are represented by New Orleans attorney Brandon Frank.

In May, Frank filed papers to remove the case from Orleans Parish to federal court in the Eastern District of Louisiana. The case was later transferred to the Middle District of Louisiana, the same district where Who Dat Inc. is suing the National Football League over ownership of the phrase "Who Dat."

In late January 2010, the NFL claimed it had exclusive rights to the phrase 'Who Dat' and sent cease and desist letters to New Orleans merchants selling merchandise bearing that phrase.

The NFL backtracked just a few days later, releasing a letter on Feb. 2 stating they do "not claim to have exclusive ownership rights to the phrase 'Who Dat.'"

On Jan. 28 Monistere released a statement on behalf of his company which in part read: "the NFL has stepped on the toes of the wrong people - that is to say, the local New Orleanian who's trying to conduct business in a legitimate manner." It also states: "Who Dat?" Inc. has never claimed to 'own' the word WHO [sic], or the word DAT [sic]."

In March, Who Dat Inc. filed a petition for damages, declaratory and injunctive relief against the NFL for the misappropriation of "Who Dat," seeking declaration that Who Dat Inc. owns the phrase.

Federal Case 3:10-cv-00377-JJB-CN

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