September 21, 2010
Who owns "Who Dat"? That question is stirring up a lot of controversy.
In 1983, Steve Monistere trademarked the commercial use of the "Who Dat" phrase, meaning he has the rights to anything created with that slogan, intended for resale. Fast forward to 2009...stores across the city are selling "Who Dat" gear. Monistere sends cease and desist letters, but business owners and fans alike are mad.
Senator David Vitter says, "I don't think they have any legal right, and I think they know they have no legal right. I think they're into pure bullying trying to intimidate small business folks to give them the cut of what should be the profit of those business folks."
Monistere says since 1983 he's been closely monitoring whose been selling "Who Dat" apparel and this isn't the first time he's had a problem. "In the 80s, there was a lawsuit, that was settled out" Monistere says.
Despite what Senator Vitter and others might say, Steve Monistere insists he still owns the trademark.
While some New Orleans' businesses have struck a licensing agreement with him to carry "Who Dat" gear, others are still selling it, without his permission. For the mom and pop shops, he's even offered some licensing agreements as low as $1 dollar a year. He comments, "We've reached out to these individuals several times, come sit down at the table, and lets work this out and for reasons that I still don't understand, they choose not to, they'd rather do what they're doing."
So will these places be sued? Monistere won't say, but he insists he'll defend the slogan he worked to trademark 27 years ago.
Copyright © 2014, WGNO-TV, New Orleans