Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about football and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the football urban legends featured so far.
FOOTBALL URBAN LEGEND: Monster Cable sued the Chicago Bears for their nickname “Monsters of the Midway”
Big corporations have a pretty big advantage in the world, particularly when it comes to lawsuits, so it almost feels wrong of me to sort of come to the defense of one such company over what I think are misleading statements about them, but hey, when something’s inaccurate, it’s inaccurate.
And in this case, the company that has been getting some very rough press over the last decade or so is Monster Cable, the San Francisco cable and entertainment company that has been in the news a lot over their aggressive defense of their trademark.
You see, they gained a trademark on the term “Monster” in a pretty wide area, and as such, they have protected that mark in a pretty wide area.
As you may or may not know, if you own a trademark and you do NOT protect your mark, you lose it. So if, say, your company is Eagle Appliances and you have a trademark on that name and you find out that a new company just formed calling itself Eagle Tools and Appliances, if you DON’T sue them you lose your trademark, as you’re effectively conceding that there isn’t a problem with the two companies being confused for each other (which is what trademarks are intended for – to avoid consumer confusion between companies).
Well, with a name like “Monster,” there are going to be a LOT of companies out there using that name, and Monster Cable has gone after many of them, and most of the time they win (by “win,” the other company will either change their name or agree to license the name FROM Monster Cable or do SOMEthing to differentiate themselves from Monster Cable).
In 2004, Monster Cable purchased naming rights for Candlestick Park, the home of the San Francisco 49ers, labeling it Monster Park.
Therefore, when the Boston Red Sox sought out trademarks for certain terms related to their famous fence, the Green Monster, Monster Cable took issue (since they had just gotten their own “Monster Park”).
And the Red Sox backed off.
The most recent case that made the news is when Monster Cable took issue with trademark registrations by the national chain of mini-golf courses, Monster Mini-Golf. Now, the first misconception is that they had a problem with the name Monster Mini-Golf. They did not. However, Monster Mini-Golf ALSO sought out trademarks for “Monster Entertainment” and “Monster” in terms of entertainment and recreations activities.
It is THOSE two trademarks that Monster contested, and, honestly, that sounds pretty reasonable to me if you have a Monster Park, you presumably would not want someone to be able to open up a Monster theme park.
Anyhow, along the way, a story sprung up that Monster Cable also sued the Chicago Bears for their nickname “The Monsters of Midway.” Is it true?
It is not true, but it’s close.
The Bears sought out a trademark on the the term “The Monsters of Midway” in 2005 for usage on T-shirts. At the time, Monster Cable asked the United States Patents and Trademark Office to hold off on ruling on the trademark for 60 days while Monster Cable determined whether they wished to contest the Bears’ attempted mark. The USPTO agreed, and once that time was up, Monster Cable decided not to contest it and the mark was registered.
So no, they never sued the Chicago Bears.
But they at least gave it some consideration, and that’s all it took for the story to take off.
The legend is…
STATUS: False (with a slight bit of truth, I suppose, in that they DID think about it)
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