NWHL Suing Buffalo Beauts Hockey
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NWHL Suing Buffalo Beauts Hockey

NWHL Suing Buffalo Beauts Hockey by Kirsten Whelan

The National Women's Hockey League today filed a federal lawsuit in United States District Court, seeking a declaratory judgment stating that it is permitted to use the Buffalo Beauts trademarks held by Buffalo Beauts Hockey (BBH), the subsidiary used by Pegula Sports & Entertainment to operate the team.

The lawsuit is a response to a letter sent by attorneys for BBH dated June 25, 2019, which demanded that the NWHL immediately cease and desist use of the Buffalo Beauts trademarks, destroy any merchandise in the NWHL's control which bears those marks, and provide written assurance that the league has complied. The letter lists a deadline of June 27, 2019 for compliance and threatens further legal action should the NWHL fail to comply.

The league alleges in the complaint that it is entitled to use the marks registered by BBH in accordance with a licensing agreement reached August 27, 2018. As part of the licensing agreement, "BBH […] grants to [NWHL] Holdings a perpetual, royalty-free […], non-exclusive, sublicensable […] right and license to use the BBH Trademarks […] in connection with [NWHL] Holdings' operation and promotion of the League." This section is the basis of the NWHL's claims. However, per the licensing agreement, the NWHL's use of the BBH marks "is subject to BBH's approval which shall not be unreasonably withheld, conditioned or delayed."

The licensing agreement also states that upon termination of the agreement, "the parties shall cease all use of Licensed Trademarks except as expressly permitted in writing." It is not immediately clear what the status of the licensing agreement is amidst the league's reported refusal to sign the separation agreement-in-principle with BBH.

(Photo credit: Michelle Jay)