Philadelphia Bar, The Jacks NYB, Seeks Play Gloria! Trademark Rights

A Philadelphia bar is seeking to trademark ‘PLAY GLORIA’ and use it in connection with the sale of apparel and merchandise emblazoned with the mark, claiming first use and creation of the connection of use with the mark in support of the St. Louis Blues, a hockey team that used Laura Branigan’s 1982 song “Gloria” throughout their Stanley Cup championship series.

The Use of “Play Gloria” as a Trademark

While it is relatively common for sports teams to use songs as rallying cries for their fans, the question of who used it first, the team or the fans, can often become muddled.  Moreover, because the sports teams naturally have more resources at their disposal, including but not limited to, legal teams, press divisions, and merchandise manufacturers, fans may often back down from claiming first use or credit for the popularity of the song’s use in connection with any particular sports team.

As the Blues have used the song “Gloria” as both their rally song and postgame victory song, the phrase “Play Gloria” has been printed on all sorts of fan merchandise.  Not only have the Blues sold their own apparel with the phrase “Play Gloria” on it, but several other third parties also sell t-shirts, hats, and other similar sports paraphernalia with the phrase printed on it.  

The Jacks NYB Claims First Trademark Rights in Play Gloria

The Philadelphia bar, The Jacks NYB, has claimed rights of first use and filed trademark applications to register the marks “PLAY GLORIA” and “PLAY GLORIA!” in order to assert exclusive rights to use the mark in connection with the sale of fan apparel.  Although the Blues are actually involved in the creation of the use of the song as a victory song because the idea to adopt the song came from a mix of interaction between fans and actual Blues hockey players that had been watching a football game at the bar, the Blues have officially stated that they have no involvement with the pending trademark applications and have pulled previously existing merchandise with PLAY GLORIA printed on it from their official store.

The Jacks NYB note that St. Louis media has covered the origin story extensively, which they cite as more evidence to bolster their claims of first use.  And while the applications have not been officially approved, trademark counsel representing the Philadelphia bar has already sent a number of cease-and-desist letters to other vendors that currently sell merchandise with PLAY GLORIA printed on it.  While The Jacks NYB has confirmed that they have already become embroiled in a legal dispute with Arch Apparel over the pending mark, they have vehemently denied bringing any sort of legal action against the St. Louis Blues hockey team itself.

Evidence of Use First Use Will Prevail in Play Gloria Trademark Rights

While many narratives have already been spun over the legal actions and whether an out-of-town bar, a Philadelphia bar in this case, should be “allowed” to own rights to a mark that so strongly embodies a St. Louis hockey team and its championship run, the legal facts at the heart of the case ultimately boil down to whether the bar can successfully prove first use.  And in this case, many legal experts believe that The Jacks NYB bar has a relatively airtight case thanks to extrinsic evidence created by extensive press coverage and statements from the St. Louis Blues hockey team members themselves.

Overall, it is important for third parties to recognize that they may have rights to a significant amount of profits if they find themselves in similar situations. Quickly consulting experienced legal counsel can help such parties to potentially protect, register, and assert their rights before legal disputes with other third parties begin.

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