Snoop Dogg v Toronto Maple Leafs: legal fight looms over marijuana logo

Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Leafs asked court for more time to consider challenge to Leafs by Snoop trademark used on rappers line of weed products

Rapper and entrepreneur Snoop Dogg is facing a potential trademark showdown with a Canadian ice hockey team over the logo of his Leafs by Snoop marijuana product line

Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, or MLSE, which owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, has applied to a court for more time to consider whether to formally challenge the rappers logo.

Snoop Dogg, whose legal name is Calvin Broadus, filed the trademark application for the Leafs by Snoop logo to the United States Patent and Trademark Office last November.

According to the Globe and Mail newspaper, the National Hockey Leagues legal counsel, Kelley Lynch, recently filed a 90-day request for extension of time on MLSEs behalf asking the Alexandria, Virginia-based trademark office to look into Snoop Doggs trademark registration. It was granted on 8 June.

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figcaption class=”caption” caption–img caption caption–img” itemprop=”description”> Leafs by Snoop and Toronto Maples Leafs logos. Composite: PR

There are similarities between the hockey clubs logo and the pot companys branding. Both have three lines of text with the brand name superimposed over a stylized leaf.

The Leafs by Snoop logo, however, is a gold seven-point leaf, while the sport franchises blue-and-white logo is a 31-point leaf, a nod both to the 1931 opening of the Maple Leaf Gardens, Torontos historic former hockey arena, and to the badge worn by players from 1940s to the 1960s.

An MLSE spokesman, Dave Haggith, declined comment. Neither Snoops trademark lawyer, Lawrence Apolzon, or the NHLs Lynch responded to requests for comment.

Ottawa-based intellectual property lawyer Neil Milton said Thursday that trademark law in Canada and the US is argued on the likelihood of confusion in the mind of the ordinary consumer.

He doubted that MLSE was concerned about consumers mistaking Snoops pot products for the Toronto sports franchise, but more about confusion caused by the Leafs by Snoop logo on potential spinoff merchandise.

Its not necessarily about Snoop Dogg on packages of weed and whether thats being confused for tickets for hockey games. But if both logos appear on a T-shirt or on a sporting shirt, are they going to be confusingly similar? Milton said.

Especially in an era of merchandising, the potential for conflict is not about what the underlying core business originally was.

On 7 January 2015, Snoop filed a US trademark application under the Leafs by Snoop brand for clothing items like hats, sweatshirts and hoodies. That application was later abandoned. The current application is limited to branded cigarette lighters.

The NHL has a reputation for aggressively defending the trademarks of its sports franchises. In 2011, it made news in Canada for demanding $89,000 for trademark infringement from a Montreal restaurant owner whose window sign displayed a Montreal Canadiens hockey jersey and the words Go Habs Go, a cheer using the teams nickname.

The Leafs by Snoop logo is used on the rappers branded line of pot products, which was launched in November and sold in retail marijuana stores in Colorado.

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Leafs by Snoop is not the rappers only foray into the cannabis market.

Snoop is a longtime advocate for marijuana and in February, Canadian medical marijuana producer Tweed Inc announced it had signed a three-year deal with Snoops company, LBC Holdings.

The deal gives Tweed Inc exclusive rights to the use of the some of the companys content and brands in exchange for an undisclosed amount in cash and stock holdings.

Snoop also launched Merry Jane, a lifestyle and news website with a cannabis industry focus, in September.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/23/snoop-dogg-toronto-maple-leafs-marijuana-logo

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