A dispute over the popular chant associated with the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints is the subject of a declaratory judgment suit filed in Orleans Paris District Court on March 25.
Filed by attorney Darleen Jacobs of New Orleans, the petition for declaratory judgment pleads against Who Dat? Inc. and its owner Sal Monistere — who has claimed ownership of the chant "Who Dat?" associated with Saints fans. The petition claims no one "owns" the phrase Who Dat.
"We say it's in the public domain," Jacobs said via telephone interview. "We're going to defend our position vigorously."
Jacobs filed the suit on behalf of Who Dat Yat Chat, LLC, which registered with the state of Louisiana and trademarked the name Who Dat Yat Chat LLC in May 2007. According to the suit, Who Dat Yat Chat LLC received a notice on March 11, 2010 that stated Who Dat? Inc. is "the sole owner of the phrase 'Who Dat' and all derivations thereof."
A search in United States Patent and Trademark Office's Trademark Electronic Search System reveals that 28 trademarks have been filed that use the phrase 'Who Dat' in some capacity, 18 of which are still live.
According to the suit, Who Dat? Inc.'s ownership claim of the phrase 'Who Dat' is based under United States Federal Trade Mark Registration No. 2890070, but the registration certificate for that Trade Mark is for "Who Dat? Blues Band" and is listed as for "live performances by a musical band."
In late January 2010, the National Football League claimed it had exclusive rights to the phrase 'Who Dat' and sent cease and desist letters to New Orleans' merchants selling items bearing that phrase. The NFL backtracked just a few days later, releasing a letter on Feb. 2 stating they do "not claim to have exclusive ownership rights to the phrase 'Who Dat.'"
On Jan. 28, Monistere released a statement on behalf of his company which in part read: "the NFL has stepped on the toes of the wrong people – that is to say, the local New Orleanian who's trying to conduct business in a legitimate manner." It also states: "Who Dat?" Inc. has never claimed to 'own' the word WHO [sic], or the word DAT [sic]."
Jacobs said that the name "Who Dat Yat Chat" is not affiliated in any way with the New Orleans Saints and that the coffee shop being built in St. Bernard Parish will not feature any football, NFL or Saints-related mottos or logos. She said "Who Dat" is a phrase commonly used in New Orleans' 9th Ward, a "Yat" is a 9th Ward resident and "Chat" refers to a place for people to congregate.
"If we lose this case in Orleans District Court we're going to appeal it all the way up," she said.
Orleans Parish Case 2010-02795