April 19, 2014

The One About SI’s Use of a Cavaliers Trademark on a Miami Heat Cover

Time and time again, Clevelanders are told to just “get over it” with reference to LeBron James and his move to Miami.  And then time and time again, we are confronted with images like those to the right.

A Sports Illustrated for Kids cover that features the Miami Heat, only with the “Big Three” dressed in Wine and Gold jerseys, with hats that resemble the Cavaliers of old and the slogan that graces almost all things Cavs: “All For One.”

The Cavaliers, as told to WFNY, own the trademark registration on the phrase “All for One. One for All” in several different classes.  We have seen it on the commercials, the t-shirts and even the cheesy temporary patch that replaced “We Are All Witnesses” during the 2010 playoffs. 

But, as owners of the slogan, would the Cavaliers have much of a case against SI?

Reaching out to a local attorney who specializes in intellectual property, it seems that most of the legitimate issue will actually come from fans who continue to feel like they are being kicked while down.

“Trademarks generally there to protect the source of a good so consumers know where the good is coming from,” he said.  “Anything marketed as ‘All for One’ should be designated towards the Cavs.”

But, as SI would likely point out if asked, there is plenty of room for parody in this instance as we have seen with almost every other LeBron James-based item over the last several months.

“Its definitely misleading and the point of trademarks are meant to avoid confusion. It’s doing the exact opposite of what trademark law is intended to do.

But when it comes down to the first amendment and parody laws, parody is allowed. In this case, SI could literally be trying to parody the Cavs.”

The attorney points out that “All For One” is pretty common, espcially in the case of something like the infamous Three Muskateers.  Not using a font that is commonly used by the Cavaliers (Comic Sans?) helps in this instance.  He admits that the use of the Wine and Gold in the jersey is very misleading, but to cover themselves, SI uses the Heat name on the chests.

So, fans, when it comes down to prosecution and enforcement, the Cavaliers may not have much of an angle.  But when it comes down to feeling like SI is angling for you, you have a very big one.  Contemporary use of the word “parody” is used to mock or make fun of something or someone.  In this case, that something may very well be the current crop of Cavaliers which we root for on a nightly basis.

(Image courtesy of SI.com)

  • Friscohio

    Ever since LeDecision, I have been redirecting much of my reading from the four letter network to the SI.com site as my own little form of protest. Where do I go from here?

  • The Other Tim

    Wow. A third place team on the season preview cover.

  • Jeffp

    @1- To WFNY of course!

  • Sean

    “The One about” Who are you Deadspin?

  • 5KMD

    Nice to see DWade in the center. Hell, #6 isn’t even DWade’s “right hand man”.

    Legacy gone.

  • http://www.whitecollarredneck.com Narm

    I don’t see the outrage.

    Three superstars.

    Three muskateers.

    It isn’t a shot at the Cavs as much as lazy writing. The three muskateers and their slogan (All for one…) were around way before the Cavs – and way before the Cavs used that slogan.

    And I don’t know that the team’s slogan from last year is something that SI even knew about. I can’t name any other team’s slogan. Who’s to say they were sitting around with that intention?

    And even if they were – why would they purposely do something to hurt Cleveland fans – while no other fans would understand the reference? I doubt Lakers fans or Celtics fans or Heat fans knew that our motto was All For One… so they would not get this.

    In the end the accusation is that SI purposely went out and made a cover that would attack the Cavs, which makes little sense considering they want to sell magazines to EVERYONE.

    (This isn’t directed at WFNY but at all of the uproar about this on message boards and twitter, etc)

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Craig Lyndall

    @Sean… didn’t we all watch the TV show Friends growing up?

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108778/episodes

  • http://www.60bpm.com/ Robbie

    No way this got through to publication without what we’re talking about coming up at some point. So, yes, it annoys me and makes me hope that horrible things happen to certain people. Clevelanders have thick skin, thicker than most people, but enough is enough.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Jon

    I want desparately to make a parity/parody joke, but nothing’s coming to mind. HOMOPHONES!!!

  • Chad

    Terrible oversight by SI for Kids and the artist, but I doubt it was intentional. I get it, The Three Musketeers, One for all and all for one. The “Heat” jerseys are either White or Black and the “Miami” jerseys are deep red, so I’m not sure why they chose to put “Heat” on the wrong jersey. One of the other colors in their scheme is gold, but seriously. Another shot (unintentional or intentional) at Northeast Ohio. Add it to the list.

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com Cleveland Frowns

    Maybe my comment’s not coming through because it contained a link, but the color scheme on the Heat pullovers in the SI cover are the exact same color scheme used by the Heat on jerseys they’re wearing this season. Check out Chris Creamer’s sports logos to see.

    The idea that SI would take a shot at Cleveland by way of a children’s magazine cover seems pretty farfetched. Seems like a basic literary reference for the kids here.

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-6513-Cleveland-Sports-Examiner clevexaminer

    Also notice how Lebron is holding the sword with his left hand so not to further “injure” his elbow.

  • Christopher

    @5

    If you look back at ANY of the Heat promo photos Wade is ALWAYS in the middle. I haven’t seen one yet with #6 or tyrannosaurus flop center stage.

    #6 knows it will never be him center stage anymore.

  • EZ

    +1 to Narm

    First thing I though when I saw the cover was the three musketeers reference. From the clothes to the slogan it’s pretty obvious to me, though that was one of my favorite stories growing up. Loved the original book and watched several film renditions.

  • Garry Owen

    Um, yeah, I’m going to say “no foul.” The 3 Musketeers allusion is pretty obvious – especially for school-aged kids everywhere but Cleveland, apparently.

    As for Clevelanders having thick skin: As they say on my family’s favorite TV show, “Myth busted.”

  • Chad

    @Frowns

    Agreed, but that color scheme is their alternate “Miami” jerseys. The “Heat” Jerseys are White with deep red lettering and Black with white lettering. There shouldn’t be a reason for the switch on the cover.

  • Stinkfist

    Making a basketball reference, we could call this a block, a charge, or a no-call. Lets just leave it as a no-call. I’m sick of complaining over mass media.

  • http://www.heyhokie.com Vengeful Pat

    I thought Scott took a good angle on the topic… talking more about copyright infringement and intellectual property than whether it’s a shot at the Cavs, and frankly I found it interesting on an otherwise boring day in the world of sports. My brother is also an IP attorney and concluded that SI would be sufficiently protected by the parody exception.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Yawn…

    More “Peyton Hillis is Awesome” articles please.

    Seriously, I think it would be more fun to just open up a story asking for reader’s ideas for what to nickname Hillis or McCoy.

    Of course, as soon as I say this, I draw a complete blank.

  • Garry Owen

    C-Bus: “The Real McCoy.” (Way too obvious, and with no kick.) I’ve got nothing.

    Pat: Don’t think SI needs the parody exception. If it’s a parody of anything, it’s a parody of “The Three Musketeers” (which is in the public domain and no longer has protection), and not the Cavs. I think they’re in the clear on every level, from an IP stand-point; including trade dress, trademark and copyright infringement, etc. Again, simply no foul.

  • boogeyman

    Anyone who takes offense is entirely to thin skinned and has to much time on their hands. Now lets get back to the Super Bowl bound Browns and the next Tom Brady Colt McCoy! (Couldn’t resist)

  • Believelander

    @Jon: this is a reach to prove that the NBA has as much parody as the NFL.

    Zing!

  • mgbode

    what? we are focused on the ‘parody’ as if it’s a parody of the Cavs and not a parody of the Heat?

    “All for one, and wins for all”

    So many different ways to take this.

    1. “All for one” without the backend “and one for all” takes away the team aspect of the Musketeers implying that each one is in it for themselves.

    2. “and wins for all” in reference to taking on the NBA obviously implies that they will win many games but could easily be taken in the opposite context.

    3. “and wins for all” conveniently leaves out the word “championship”. “All for one and a championship for all” would have been a better tagline if they wanted to fully boast this trio.

    4. the most obvious: they depict the Heat as Musketeers, which we all know are French heroes from literature. Cavaliers, by contrast, were actual real Englishmen (royalist supports of King Charles I). The English and French had many a bloody war but, overall, the English got the better of the French. Perhaps this is SI’s way of saying that they expect Cleveland to ultimately prevail :)

  • http://serandez.blogspot.com Ezzie

    Does Colt McCoy really need a nickname? He was given one at birth.

  • Just1

    I’d also be interested in knowing the source who said that the Cavs have trademarked the phrase ‘All for One. One for All.’ I don’t see the TM logo on any of the Cavs usages. I’m not an IP or copyright attorney, but I would guess that if anyone owned the copyright to the phrase it would be the estate of Alexander Dumas, who wrote ‘The Three Musketeers’

  • Garry Owen

    Let’s just call him “Daniel,” then.

  • Garry Owen

    mgbode: “French heroes.” Hehe.

  • mgbode

    @Garry – great, now I’m thinking Arby’s (french dip, mmmm) :)

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Scott

    “I’d also be interested in knowing the source who said that the Cavs have trademarked the phrase ‘All for One. One for All.’”

    WHO ARE YOUR SOURCES!?!?!?

    How about the Cavaliers front office?

    Further dive: The trademark has been live since March, 2005. Trademark serial No. 78597194, “allowing sponsors to affiliate these goods and services with a basketball program.”

  • historycat

    What did they intend with the parody?

    To whom was it directed? the Kids who won’t get it, or the kids of Cleveland so they will be Heat fans.

    I would love to make a case against them just so they stop doing this to us.

  • James E

    Wow. Trying to associate the costumes and colors in that kiddie cover in an effort to create a mini-controversy is really stretching it.

    James

  • Tim

    1. you cant really copyright a phrase. you can trademark one.
    2. the cavs own numerous trademark registrations for ALL FOR ONE ONE FOR ALL as it pertains to entertainment services, basketball games, broadcasting, retail stores, clothing, publications, audio/video recordings and other things. this is all public information at the US trademark office website. nobody needs a “source” to get this information.
    3. “parody” in a trademark sense isn’t exactly the same as the standard definition. in this sense, if the cavs said to SI there is infringement then SI could use parody as a defense (although a parody does not always excuse infringement). the catch is, a valid parody by nature HAS to call to mind the “famous” trademark. otherwise the parody is lost and they end up in the realm of infringement. SI could not say on the one hand their cover is just a parody of the cavs trademark (and trade dress) but on the other hand does not call to mind the cavs. they cant have it both ways. infringement is a separate analysis altogether, and i doubt their cover rises to the level of being infringing use. even if it did, i would think they could argue a valid parody since they clearly seem to be calling to mind the cavs through use of a modified version of the cavs trademark (a pun really), the cavs colors, the outfits which i believe the cavs are the only NBA team to any kind of logo that would invoke such outfit and the styles of swords which the cavs use pretty prominently in their advertisements. all things considered, the only thing that DOESNT invoke the cavs in that cover is the “heat” logo on the unis. so yeah, its probably a valid parody. SI knew exactly what it was doing. at the end of the day, its probably harmless but im sure SI knew what was going on. a good example of a parody is chewy vuitton dog toys.