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Deals resolve "Who Dat?" trademark claims

Last Modified: Monday, October 29, 2012 5:53 PM

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Settlements have resolved a Louisiana recording company's claims against two T-shirt vendors and a restaurant over merchandising rights to the phrase "Who Dat?" a popular chant of New Orleans Saints fans.

The deals eliminate the need for a federal trial scheduled to begin Monday.

Who Dat? Inc., which recorded a song in 1983 that used the cheer, accused Storyville Apparel, Monogram Express and Who Dat Yat Chat of violating its trademark of the phrase.

The T-shirt vendors and Who Dat Yat Chat argued that "Who Dat?" is a generic phrase that can't be trademarked.

Darleen Jacobs, a New Orleans attorney, said the settlement allows her to use Who Dat Yat Chat as the name of a restaurant she plans to open in Violet later this year. Who Dat? Inc. also will pay Jacobs more than $3,174 to cover her court costs, the agreement said.

"I've been using 'Who Dat?' since I was a toddler," Jacobs said. "No one owns 'Who Dat?' It's in the public domain."

Who Dat? Inc. co-owner Steve Monistere said his company sued to protect its right to use the phrase for "very specific and narrow categories" of goods, including T-shirts, foods and beverages.

"Our company is entitled to use 'Who Dat?' as a brand name for our goods and services, and that's always been the case," he said.

Mark Andrews, a lawyer for the T-shirt vendors, said terms of their settlement with Who Dat? Inc. are confidential. However, Andrews said his clients intend to continue selling T-shirts with the phrase "Who Dat?" on them.

"The T-shirt vendors never asked to be in this lawsuit and are glad it's over with so they can get on with their business," Andrews said.

Who Dat? Inc. and the NFL settled related claims against each in January. At the time, an NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said their agreement called for the league, the Saints and the company to make co-branded merchandise available to fans.

In the days leading up to the Saints' victory in the 2010 Super Bowl, the NFL sent out a batch of cease-and-desist letters demanding T-shirt makers stop selling "Who Dat?" merchandise. But the NFL backed down after state officials challenged the league's trademark infringement claims.

Monistere and his brother, Sal, have described themselves as founding members of the "Who Dat Nation." They say they trademarked and nurtured the phrase after they enlisted several Saints players to chant it on a recording of "When the Saints Go Marching In," sung by Aaron Neville.

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