BATON ROUGE, La. (Legal Newsline)-The National Football League on Monday acknowledged that it does not have exclusive copyright ownership of a popular New Orleans Saints football rallying cry, Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell told Legal Newsline.
The attorney general, a Democrat, had been asked to determine who owns the rights to the cheer "Who Dat," as well as who owns rights to the fleur-de-lis symbol that is often associated with the team.
Caldwell, who had a conference call with NFL officials this afternoon, told Legal Newsline said the football league and merchants have an interest in protecting their profits.
"This one just got a little out of hand," he said, noting that the NFL has abandoned its claims of copyright infringement. "We appear to be in perfect agreement."
Jubilant fans, the attorney general said, are free to use the "Who Dat" and fleur-de-lis as they see fit so long as they don't market products as officially licensed NFL items.
"They can scratch it on the hood of their car if they want," Caldwell said.
The National Football League had sent cease-and-desist letters to some T-shirt makers, demanding that they stop selling items bearing the Saints' popular cheer and the French symbol, which has been around for hundreds of years.
"Those letters were a little bit strong," Caldwell said.
The legal kerfuffle came as the New Orleans Saints prepare for their big game against the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV. The game, which marks the Saint's first Super Bowl appearance, is Feb. 7 in Miami.
In response to the letters, two members of Louisiana's congressional delegation lashed out at the National Football League.
For his part, U.S. Sen. David Vitter, a Republican, threatened to have his own "Who Dat" shirts printed and dared the NFL to sue him. U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon, the Democrat running against Vitter this year, posted an online petition for angry Saints fans to sign to urge the NFL to abandon its copyright claims.
From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at firstname.lastname@example.org.