Who Dat Gonna Sue Dem Saints?

Eddie DzurillaCorrespondent IFebruary 4, 2010

The No Fun League, in one of their more inspired moments, has been sending cease and desist letters to New Orleans T-shirt vendors who have utilized the phrase "who dat ".

Never mind that copyright law clearly states that common use language is exempt from any trademark, patent, or other restrictive usage infringement. 

Or that terms such as "who dat " have been a part of the local vernacular for well over 100 years, which would certainly qualify as common use.

Never mind that common sense would also dictate that you leave the small business men and women selling the t-shirts alone. They just did have this small flood there a couple of years ago and are still recovering after all.

And never mind that if it had been someone like McDonald's or Budweiser who were utilizing "who dat " in one of their commercial campaigns that the NFL would have left them alone, since they have their own battalion of shiney shoed lawyers on their pay role.

Nope, never mind all that. The NFL went after the little guy.

Perhaps they should try to get trademark protection on the word "bully ".

It must have been a slow week at the office for the legal beagles who work for the No Fun League, since the whole episode is something that brings to mind another word. 


Yep, let's threaten some small-time vendors with legal action so we can maximize our t-shirt revenues by another couple of thousand bucks. We're the NFL! We just can't live without the revenue we're giving up from these small time t-shirt shop sales.

It could add up to a whole million dollars or so. Let's send them all a cease and desist letter to make 'em knuckle down. 

Never mind the MILLIONS in brand equity we'll lose by being viewed as obnoxious bullies by the general public. And never mind that our claim has absolutely NO LEGAL MERIT.  Let’s threaten them. It'll be fun.  

Maybe they were just bored. Maybe some young lawyer lost a bar bet and sent the letter on a dare. In the annals of stupid business moves, it’s up there with new Coke and the Edsel.

What's next? 

Is the NFL going to sue people in New York who say "fuggitaboutit"?  Maybe they'll go after everyone in Philly who says "yo".

Minnesota better watch it, because they're going to trademark "you betcha...ya".

And in Beantown, they'll have clam, potato and cream soup, since the league is going after the term "chowda".

The sad thing about this whole brew-ha-ha is it doesn’t even surprise anyone anymore.  The NFL has become so antiseptic, so corporate, so unfeeling, that we expect this abhorrent behavior from them. Like the league owners in the old sci-fi movie Rollerball , they just exist to use us up as many resources as they can and then move on to consume some more.

Stadiums are built with tax money (that's OUR money) to subsidize rich owners and their rich corporate brethren. They sit in subsidized sky boxes, looking down on the hoi polloi and rabble below, while young men permanently injure themselves in gladiatorial combat for their pleasure. 

Jerks like Jerry Jones and Al Davis slip, slide, and ooze their way to increased riches, while those of us who have to work for a living subsidize them.

The NFL makes the Star Trek villain "the Borg" seem tame, because like them, they never quit. Resistance is futile. They will not stop until they own all of our souls and get their hands into all of our pockets.

And, like the Roman nobles of old, whose numeric system they utilize for the big game, the NFL seeks to control and command, allowing us little plebes our pleasures as long as we stay in place. 

I say, thumbs down to that.

The attempt to own "Who Dat " looks, at this juncture, to have back fired. The denizens of The Big Easy, the most non-corporate of American cities, have collectively thumbed their noses at the pooh-bahs and their legal minions. 

But just the fact that they had the chutzpah, and lack of grey matter, to pull this stunt in the first place, is enough to make ya puke.

People wonder why I like baseball better. 

It's because the guys in the NFL make George Steinbrenner look warm and cuddly.