Trademarks

Go Walgreens!

Why are so many people in Washington DC walking around wearing Walgreens gear all of a sudden?

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Speaking of logos …  As you are undoubtedly aware, the Washington Nationals have scaled previously unreachable heights and will be playing in their first World Series, beginning this coming Tuesday, against either the Houston Astros (likely) or the NY Yankees (unlikely).

It's a true feel-good story, a nice antidote to the many other feel-not-so-good stories that suck up a great deal of oxygen in our Nation's capital. There's the improbability of it; the Nats lost 31 of their first 50 games, and, should they win the World Series, would be the first team since the 1914 "Miracle Braves" to have dug themselves out out of a hole that deep that late in the season. They had to overcome a history of postseason failure—four times in then last seven years they had reached an elimination game and lost, often in particularly soul-crushing ways—and they had to claw back from being three runs down in two of the elimination games this year (against the Brewers and Dodgers), becoming the first team in major league history to do in two consecutive postseason series.

With all the Nationals gear floating around town, many people have noticed that the Nationals' "curly W" logo bears a rather striking resemblance to the logo of the Walgreen's drug store chain; they are, as you can see above, almost (though not entirely) indistinguishable from one another.

Fortunately, it does not appear that Walgreen's, which has registered the logo with the PTO (Reg. No. 87678728), has any interest in contesting the Nationals' use of the logo—possibly from an excess of public-spiritedness, possibly from a recognition that the company actually benefits by having thousands of people walking around with "their" logo on their shirts and hats, or possibly from a recognition that while the logos are indeed quite similar, it would be difficult to show (as required under the federal Lanham Act) that consumers are "confused" or "misled" by the similarity, given the very different lines of commerce in which the two firms are engaged.  The Walgreen's logo is associated, according to the trademark registration, with a variety of goods and services—"non-medicated hand soaps, nail polish remover, eye makeup remover, moisturizing creams, skin care preparations, pre-moistened cosmetic wipes, deodorant for personal use, cosmetic products, shampoos …"—none of which is remotely related to the goods and services provided by the baseball team, and trademark law makes it extremely difficult to enforce exclusive rights across markets that are completely unrelated.

Go Nats!

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  1. All that aside, walking around D.C. with a red hat these days, especially in certain neighborhoods, might not be the best idea if you want to be left alone.

    1. Are you talking about red as the color of the Republican Party or as the Bloods’ gang color? Kind of ironic that most of the biggest Nats fans I know are prog Democrats

      1. Red, as in it looks like a MAGA hat.

        1. Nats colors are red.

          You’ll be fine these days.

      2. Red as in the color of communism.
        I still am trying to find out who assigned that color to true blue Republicans, and blue to the red-to-the-non-existent-soul Democrats.

        1. Maps used to be blue for Republicans, in general. Here’s an article I read on this issue a while ago, and just dug up again. Political Colors

          1. I noticed this a long time ago. I recall Reagan sweeping to re-election, and ABC news slowly zooming in on a blue map, “That little red area is Washington DC.”

            It’s on YouTube somewhere.

            I wondered if some pop psychologist thought blue was more appealing so media folks re-assigned it to the Democrats in later years.

            1. As in red is more angry and that is unappealing to women-not-that-we-distinguish-or-admit-to-it-in-public.

            2. Yeesh. People whine about the weirdest things. Red = communism and also = Republican party. Dems changed to blue, so this must be the result of some diabolical conspiracy that involves the media.
              Cuz, you know, media bias.
              I’m sure the actual story is interesting enough, without adding on the usual delusional paranoid anti-media and anti-First-Amendment theories.

              #sad

              1. “actual story is interesting enough”
                Not really.
                The networks alternated each election, it was GOP’s turn to be red in 2000, the election got prolonged as we know and it stuck.

                1. Bob,
                  Actually, that’s pretty interesting (in its simplicity) . . . I did not know that story at all. Thanks for adding the actual info. [And since it came from a poster with unimpeachable conservative bona fides, maybe it will shake Krayt loose from his (her?) delusional conspiracy wet dream.]

  2. Nice post, David. But it’s a little misleading to say that the Nats had reached an elimination game four times in the last seven years and lost. If an “elimination game” is one where the Nats’ season would end with a loss, then Game 4 of the 2012 NLDS (Jayson Werth!!), Game 3 of the 2014 NLDS, and Game 4 of the 2017 NLDS were all “elimination games” that the Nats won. Of course, the Nats went on to lose the next game in each instance, and lost the series, but still . . .
    Go Nats, indeed.

  3. What do Nationals fans do after they win the World Series?

    They turn off the XBox and go to bed.

    1. I will be stealing this in the future for any number of sports teams. Thank you.

  4. It’s not a feel good story for Montreal, a great baseball city which embraced Jackie Robinson (unlike Washington, which supports a football team with a racist nickname and had all white sports teams long after other cities integrated theirs), whose team was stolen from them and moved to Washington for cynical political reasons.

    I hope the Nationals get swept.

    1. “great baseball city”?

      Attendance in the Expos last 7 years got over 1 million exactly one time. The last 2 million plus attendance was 1983, Nationals have had that 11 of 15 years.

      Poor attendance doomed them.

      1. That probably would not have been the case if not for the 1994 strike. The Expos that year were probably the best team in the majors and had a good chance of winning the World Series. They had a solid starting rotation anchored by Pedro Martinez, a good bullpen, a good fielding and hitting infield, and perhaps one of the best all-time outfields with Vlad Guerrero, Marquis Grissom, and Moises Alou. The strike really boned that team.

        1. They got hurt twice by player’s strikes. They also had a terrible ballpark. The fanbase was fine.

      2. If what you mean by ‘attendance’ is a sold seat, regardless of the discount to make it sold. Attendance has not meant turnstile counts since 1992.

        1. Yes, you are right.

          Every team counts it this way so you can still make a comparison.

    2. That they used to be the Expos (Ex-Expos, as it were) is why I’m cheering for the Nats. The Expos were my first baseball love and taught me the game is mostly about having your heart broken—I’ll loathe Rick Monday to my final breath—but still hoping, and I wish they were still in Canada, but even so I’ll be happy if it finally has a title to its name.

    3. Someone in Washington like Jackie Robinson though. before he became the first black player in the MLB he was among the first black men admitted to the OCS, and graduated to become one of the first black commissioned officers in the US Army

    4. I assume, then, that you also root against the Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers, teams that exist after various versions of the Washington Senators were moved — or “stolen” from DC — and became those teams? And every other team that moved (Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants, Philadelphia and KC A’s, Boston and Milwaukee Braves, etc. etc.)?

      1. Those teams weren’t stolen. Washington was, and is, a terrible baseball city, and those teams were not moved to Minneapolis and Dallas in order to curry political favor.’

        There should simply not be a major league baseball team in Washington. The city got several chances.

  5. There’s some wiseass driving around northern Virginia with a Nats license plate that has the curly W on the left side, followed by the vanity tag ALGRNS.

  6. They’re tired of being ashamed of being oxycodone addicts?

  7. Fortunately, it does not appear that Walgreen’s, which has registered the logo with the PTO (Reg. No. 87678728), has any interest in contesting the Nationals’ use of the logo—possibly from an excess of public-spiritedness, possibly from a recognition that the company actually benefits by having thousands of people walking around with “their” logo on their shirts and hats, or possibly from a recognition that while the logos are indeed quite similar, it would be difficult to show….

    Or possibly because even if they succeeded it would accomplish nothing except getting a whole of people seriously pissed off at them. Not a good plan.

    1. I much prefer Walgreens to CVS, although the latter is much more common in the DC metro area. I don’t think Walgreens would want to lose what small presence it has.

  8. The team should be renamed to the Washington FUBARs

    Truth in advertising!

  9. Reminds me of the “Kids First” vanity plate I saw several years ago with the added text, “Eat The”.

    Someone was apparently prescient about the looming extinction of all life on earth in 2030.

  10. Walgreens obviously needs to hire more lawyers. 🙂

    Nice to see legal sanity on occasion, as opposed to when Sun Microsystems sent a business named “Javan” a demand they change their name as confusing with “Java”.

  11. DC is the epicenter of evil in the United States.

    Beat the Bureaucrats!!

    Even if that means *** shudder*** the Yankees.

  12. So, could I put the Nike swoosh on the side of some unrelated product – like computers or packages of spaghetti noodles?

    Go Astros!

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