Who Dat Say Dey Gonna Sue Dem Fans? Political and Legal Fight Brewing Over “Who Dat” Tee-Shirts

A federal court may have to decide who owns the “who dat” phrase in footnote. The NFL, which has a reputation of claiming a wide array of trademark rights against fans, has sent letters to various companies and fans telling them not to use the phrase “who dat” in combination with the Saints’ fleur-de-lis logo. It has led to Louisiana Sen. David Vitter (fresh from his prostitution scandal) to cry foul and demand that “who dat” belongs to the people. In the meantime, two fans have claimed ownership to the phrase since 1966.

I will not repeat my view that the extent of copyright and trademark protections today has become ridiculously broad in relation to commonly use phrases and images (here and here and here). Here the NFL is saying that it will not object to people using “who dat” so long as it does on appear with the Saints’ fleur-de-lis.

In response, Vitter is announcing that his staff will distribute teeshirts that read “Who Dat Say We Can’t Say Who Dat?” I would be more impressed if Vitter proposed something substantive in terms of legislation rather than apparel like a broader exception for public use of common symbols, images, phrases, and material.

Instead, Vitter seems to be arguing that it belongs to Saints fans — as opposed to everyone else (most importantly Colts fans). He stressed in an e-mail the phrase belongs “only to us here in Who Dat Nation, and not the NFL.”

That claims may be contested by WhoDat Inc., owned by two specific Saints fans Sal and Steve Monistere who claim rights to the phrase. In 1983, Steven Monistere produced the song “Who Dat Say They Gonna Beat Dem Saints” with Aaron Neville and several Saints players. They say that the have the only federal trademark for “Who Dat.”

For the full story, click here and here.

8 thoughts on “Who Dat Say Dey Gonna Sue Dem Fans? Political and Legal Fight Brewing Over “Who Dat” Tee-Shirts”

  1. From link: “(Lori) McClusky’s “McFest” is an annual concert series at…”

    —-Ms. McCluskey is lucky MCD isn’t demanding that she also change her name:

    “UnNews:McDonald’s sues woman over new daughter’s name
    15 June 2008”

    “To Stephanie Williams, playground teasing is the least of her children’s worries.

    Yesterday, the McDonald’s Corporation announced that they were suing Williams, 24, for copyright infringement. The object of the corporation’s ire? The name of Williams’ newborn daughter, McKatelyn. When McKatelyn’s name appeared in the local birth announcements, word got out to the company. “

  2. It seems to me that the NFL is complaining about the use of the Saints’ fleur-de-lis logo, not the “Who Dat” phrase. The Saints’ fleur-de-lis logo is a narrow copyright protection issue. I’ve got to side with the NFL on this.

  3. AY,

    What a bunch of bastards. Although this case makes marginal sense compared to their their earlier assertion they owned all commercial uses of the Mc prefix. And I do mean marginal.

    From the article:

    “McDonald’s says its just business, and that they’re trying to work out a solution before the case goes to court and fees skyrocket for McClusky.

    “We have made several attempts to resolve this matter amicably, because we recognize this event is for charity fund-raising,” McDonald’s spokeswoman Ashlee Yingling said in a statement. “We have offered to help the event organizers cover costs in selecting a new name for their event; we have suggested other variations of this word that they could use.”

    It’s. Just. Business.

    Well I say McScrew you, Yinling and McCorporate.

    19-year-old Lauren McClusky’s is raising money for charity, NOT A COMPETITOR YOU McMORONS. If she starts selling Big Macs and McRibs, sue her ass off. But until then? How about you peckerwoods exhibiting some McCommon Sense, oh, and what’s that other thing, oh yeah,


    I hope the media shit storm causes you nitwits no end of McTrouble.

    This is a perfect example of the amorality of the corporation. Fascism’s fruit stinks of venal narcissism and the worship of false gods. ALL BOW TO THE GOLDEN CALF, er, ARCHES!

    I am just glad I quit eating McDonald’s salt and sugar laden swill years ago.

    They deserve a McBoycott.

    The above is intended as McSatire.

    No prefixes, Scottish or otherwise, were harmed in the production of this post.

  4. I got bad news for this case.

    “Who dat?” is a phrase in common usage within the confines of the local New Orleans distinctive dialect. It has been for as long as I’ve known Yats. It is also a phrase common among the Cajuns who have a distinct (and rural) dialect in their own right.

    “Yats”, to the uninitiated, are native New Orleanians and is shorthand for one of their other oft used colloquial phrases, the greeting (both in person and on the phone) of “Where y’at?”

    They are going to have as much luck asserting rights over this phrase as McDonald’s did trying to secure the “Mc” prefix.

  5. Would you Xerox this for me? What kind of coke do you want? These are just like your momma made! Something are Public Domain and some things are proprietary. “Who dat” seems to be a generally acceptable saying for some in the south.

    It would be like saying that the Cowboys own the song, saying Are you Ready for Some Football? When we know it is going to be the Colts…..

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