The Raptors are pretty darn hot right now which means their logo is EVERYWHERE. From storefront windows to desserts to every. single. head in Toronto (and across the country), that claw-marked basketball can be seen spread all over the nation. The only problem? The Raptors don’t actually have a trademark on it. Uh oh!
In fact, the Raps may lose out on that logo entirely if a legal dispute with Monster Energy doesn’t go their way. The drink company recently made another move in their ongoing case against the sports franchise to block their trademark, arguing that the logo is too similar to their own Monster Energy “M.”
For a refresher, here’s the side-by-side:
When the Raptors changed their logo in 2015 from the basketball-dribbling dino they’d been sporting since their conception in 1995, Monster quickly moved to block it, writing in court documents, “[Monster] will be damaged by registration of the [Raptors] in that the mark will dilute the distinctive qualities of [Monster’s] mark … and will lessen the ability of [Monster’s] mark to distinguish its goods.”
Monster Energy has been using their green “M” logo since the drinks were first introduced in 2002. The latest iteration of the Raps logo is newer than that, but Raptors owner Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment countered that the design is “the same or substantially the same” as an alternate logo they’ve been using since 1995, meaning they’ve had the look longer.
The lawsuit has been ongoing for four years now and in May 2019, Monster moved to block the Raptors’ argument that the old logo’s use of three claws predated Monster’s. The decision now rests with U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
A Washington, D.C. trademark lawyer broke down what exactly that could mean. Josh Gerben writes, “If somehow Monster Energy would manage to win this case, it could have a preclusive effect in federal court, which means that Monster Energy could force the Raptors to change their current logo.
“I view that as extremely unlikely, but it’s ultimately a possible outcome of this case.”
While Gerben seems to be pretty confident, the part of the case that’s most concerning is that the Raptors literally don’t own their current logo, which isn’t a great position to be in.
For now though, we’ve got some NBA Finals to worry about.