Fans of the Jacksonville Jaguars know the term “Sacksonville.” It originated last season when the team’s defensive line had 10 sacks during its first game. The Jaguars went on to have more sacks than all but one other team in the league during the season.
Now there’s a legal battle over who owns “Sacksonville.” The Jaguars have sought to trademark the term. However, Dan Skuta, who was a linebacker with the team for two years, says it’s rightfully his.
Skuta first moved to trademark the term back in 2015 before he even joined the team. He gave up that effort the following year. However, he continued to use “@Sacksonville” as his Instagram handle and even sold products with the name on it.
Skuta’s time with the Jaguars was considered unremarkable. He started in 10 games and had only 1.5 sacks himself during his two seasons there. He was cut following the 2016 football season.
However, that hasn’t stopped him from filing the paperwork, known as a notice of opposition, to the Jaguars’ trademark application. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has rejected Skuta’s attempts to trademark Sacksonville.
The USPTO has said that Skuta’s products with the Sacksonville logo “strongly suggest a connection between applicant’s goods and the Jacksonville Jaguars.” Further, according to the federal agency, “Internet evidence establishes that the Jacksonville Jaguars have gained notoriety in recent years for their record of sacks in gameplay.”
It remains to be seen whether Skuta appeals the decision. A spokesperson for the Jaguars says that “we’ve been in active discussions with Dan Skuta and his representatives for some time to develop a resolution to this matter.”
An intellectual property expert at the University of Florida says that Skuta’s case isn’t helped by the fact that he gave up his attempt to trademark the name previously. Further, she notes, the name s more closely associated with the team than with Skuta. She asks if “when you hear Sacksonville, do you think about the Jaguars, or do you think about a T-shirt this player produced for his Instagram page or whatever?”
It’s often difficult to anticipate what word or phrase will take off. Therefore, companies, organizations and individuals may not take steps immediately to trademark a name, word or phrase. However, by consulting with a Florida intellectual property attorney sooner rather than later, you may be able to prevent costly legal battles later on.