By Phil Hecken, with Mike Styczen
A couple of weeks ago, in the comments, reader “Mike2” (Mike Styczen) mentioned “TESS,” which is an acronym for “Trademark Electronic Search Service.” Not quite certain what, exactly, this was, I asked him to elaborate more fully. What transpired after that has led to this article, which will hopefully allow you to more fully explore the myriad logos and trademarks (some of which have never even been used) for our favorite sports teams. What follows, then, is a look at “TESS” and some of the more unique logos and trademarked images that Mike uncovered using the TESS service. First, let’s get to meet Mike and then he’ll guide us through this TESS mess.
Phil Hecken: What do you do that you’re familiar with the trademarks databases?
Mike Styczen: I’m a commercial lawyer in Calgary. I don’t do trademark or patent work directly (I’ve never registered or litigated one) but in the course of my work I have to sometimes verify that they’ve been properly registered, assigned, mortgaged, that sort of thing, which requires some work in the databases. It didn’t take long before I realized how much raw information was in there.
PH: How long have you been a fan of uniforms?
MS: Unlike a lot of UniWatchers, I wasn’t fascinated with uniforms growing up. I first got interested in uniforms around the time of the NHL’s anniversary season when a bunch of teams did throwbacks and I started to realize that there were a lot of interesting designs out there. I remember seeing Marc Okkonen’s book at my local bookstore for about five bucks in the clearance and for some reason I didn’t pick it up for some reason, I sure regret that now.
PH: So, what led you to Uni Watch?
MS: I was reading up on some throwback uniforms and ended up finding one of the original Village Voice columns and I was hooked. I’ve been a regular reader ever since then. One of the proudest moments of my life so far was when Paul referred to one of my wisecracks as “brilliant” and “trenchant” in an ESPN.com column.
PH: I assume you own some unis, then?
MS: I’ve got a few replicas, nothing authentic — Gretzky Oilers, Sittler Leafs, Hawerchuk Jets (I used have tickets when I lived in Winnipeg), and somewhere, an old rainbow guts Astros. Plus a Flames jersey I wear to games and to the Red Mile.
PH: Anything else you want to let us know?
MS: I’m also an avid road racer (mostly marathons and halfs), I have a pretty big collection of race shirts that could be considered uniforms.
PH: Got any favorite uniforms?
MS: My favourite uniform the original powder blue pullover Blue Jays, just because that’s what I grew up watching. In the NHL, I love the simplicity of the original six jerseys, without all the extraneous piping, patches, boxes, stripes, and junk.
PH: Awesome. OK, thanks Mike.
So now, without further ado, I now turn the piece over to Mike, who’ll take you through the procedure.
Phase the First: The Maiden
An overlooked source of information on sports logos and names (and, for that matter, logos and names of products and companies) is the TESS database.
TESS is the Trademark Electronic Search Service and is maintained by the United States Patent and Trademark office. I don’t know how to describe it other than as an absolute treasure trove of trademarks filed in the United States.
The simple search interface provided is remarkably powerful — you can word search the by trademark, owner, or all fields. You’ll get a list of trademarks to look at — many of them are just trademarked photos of trademark used on samples.
The biggest problem with TESS is that it’s structured as a database, behind a firewall, so you can’t Google it directly and you can’t (as far as I can tell) link to individual pages or drawings. I’d love to have written this entry with links directly into TESS but I couldn’t make it happen. Instead, you get photos and drawings I found on TESS hosted on Flickr.
The Canadian version of TESS is the imaginatively named Canadian Trade-marks Database, hosted by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. This database still bugs me because the word “trademark” doesn’t have a dash in the middle, but the database does. Searching is similar to TESS, the focus is (obviously) on trademarks registered in Canada, and the deeper TDR information contained on TESS isn’t available on-line in Canada.
TESS is huge — I just scratched the surface to find some odd and interesting designs to write about. I apologize for not having anything from the NBA or NCAA, I just don’t know enough about either of those to recognize interesting things if I see them.
Everyone knows the NHL’s current logo, and the old logo, but here’s a logo that also floated around in the 1990’s — I don’t recall them ever officially adopting it, but it showed up on merchandise from time to time. And another oddball logo — the application says it was for “electronic transmission of news, data, graphics and audio from a central server via modem to computer terminals”. My guess is that someone thought it looked pretty cool and high-tech at the time. Here’s some more NHL logos you probably never knew existed:
Los Angeles Kings -”“ I know everyone has seen this goofball, but I can’t believe he got his own trademark.
The first, unused logo of the Ottawa Senators
Here’s an odd Pittsburgh Penguins logo. I’d love to know the story behind this one. This logo isn’t an unfamiliar logo, its now part of the the Wilkes Barre Scranton Penguins logo. But what’s interesting is that the Pittsburgh Penguins registered this logo in 1989, ten years before the WBS Penguins were founded. Perhaps the Pittsburgh Penguins were considering it for themselves, registered it, then put it on the shelf and then brought it out ten years later for their minor league affiliate?
No logos or pictures available, the names trademarked by the Houston Texans included: the Stallions, Wildcatters, Stormcats, Bobcats, Wildcats, Challengers, Apollos, Texians, Toros, Wranglers, Roughriders, Roustabouts, Colt 45s, Roughnecks, Energy, and Hurricanes.
While we’re on the topic of Baltimore football, another infamous logo.
This is a cool one ”“ we all know the San Francisco Giants threatened to move through the 70s (to Toronto), 80s (to San Jose and Santa Clara) and 90s (to Tampa), but did you know that in the 1980s they actually trademarked a script logo, a cap logo and a different cap logo for San Jose?
Chicago White Sox have two unusual logos here and here. Not surprisingly, given that the White Sox have had so many logos and designs in their history, there are probably just as many White Sox logos in TESS as the other 29 teams combined.
And finally, doesn’t Youppi just look sad in his trademark application. It’s like he knows what’s coming.
Well there you have it. Thanks Mike. So, go forth young Uni Watchers and explore your favorite team’s trademarks and logos. See what you can find. If you find something you really like, or is really unique, or just plain bizarre, be sure to post it here.
On Friday, I linked to this photo of the Boston team playing the New York team, and is dated October 8, 1904. (That photo, by the way comes from the Library of Congress, a tremendous resource.) The location is the Huntington Avenue Grounds, which, if you could look at it schematically, would look like this. When I first looked at the date, I figured it had to be some kind of post season game, but then I remembered in 1904 there was no world series. So, I looked up the year in baseball for 1904 and found out they were still playing regular season games as late as October 7 (and possibly later). So, that photo had to be the New York Highlanders playing the Boston Americans. Further research indicates that the game in question was not even the pennant clinching game, which the Boston squad won on a wild pitch from Jack Chesbro (which was played in New York). Interesting. I had always thought the regular season in baseball, even at the turn of the 20th century, ended on or about October 1.
Also on Friday, poster “War Damn Eagle” had hoped to see what the Nationals, who had worn their
idiotic patriotic red white and blue uniforms, which were not well-received due to the red socks, sleeves and helmets, would look like with blue accoutrements. I have very little ability when it comes to matters such as this, but I tried a couple mockups to see how they’d look. The blue looks MUCH better, right?
I had asked my artist-in-residence, Pretty Boy Paulie, if he could assist with a “good” version of these, but unfortunately he was unavailable. If anyone has photoshop skills, could you post a clean version of what those mockups would look like, so we can start our write-in campaign to have the Nats wear blue socks, sleeves and helmets with their alts. Thanks!
Mess Mets: Well, it’s one step backward, one step forward for the Amazin’s this season. Friday night was a step backward when they broke out the godawful black jerseys — which also means they wore the black lids, which is the worst possible of their myriad combinations. Prior to Friday night, their other home games had been the other horrid combination of black and blue caps, black sleeves, and black socks. Which meant they were forced to wear baseball’s worst batting helmet (since the Texas Texases decided to ditch their ultimate mockery of the baseball gods). Well, on Saturday, the Mets finally took one step closer to getting it right — returning to the blue caps, socks & sleeves with their snow whites. A much better look. Here’s hoping they take the final step today, and return to the pinstripes and blue caps, which is their best combination and actual official home uniform. Really, would that be asking too much?
So, that got me to thinking, about all those home uniforms and the ridiculous and unnecessary use of black for black’s sake. For years, from their inception, the Mets really had only one gorgeous home uniform. They won a world series wearing that one. Somewhere along the way, 1983 to be precise, they decided to “jazz” it up by adding superfluous and unnecessary blue and orange piping. The did manage to win a world series in that one as well. By 1993 they had returned to their senses and removed the piping (but added a ridiculous tail for two seasons). The tail was gone after two years, but by then the “black for black’s sake” craze and the need to have several “alternate” uniforms had taken hold in baseball and the Mets added black to their uniforms in 1998, first only on their cap. (And in 1997 they introduced their “snow whites” to supplement the pinstripes). By 1999, all bets were off as the Mets added the black alternate jersey (both home and road) and a black cap. It’s been that way ever since.
I won’t even go there on the use of the black, since it doesn’t deserve to be worn on the diamond by the Mets (since it is not and never has been, one of their official colors). But their home combinations aside from the choice of black are four: (1) the worst of the four: black & blue caps, black sleeves & socks, and snow whites; (2) next worst, black & blue caps, black sleeves & socks, and pinstripes; (3) next best, blue caps, sleeves & socks, and snow whites, and (4) finally, the best, blue caps, sleeves & socks, and pinstripes. We won’t even discuss this shit. Batting practice and softball jerseys don’t belong in game play. I know, I know, begging for the mets to ditch the black
cannot be repeated enough is pointless, but it still sucks, and I hate it.
One argument for the black on these boards I have heard, and one which I’d almost be leaning towards, is to keep the black drop shadow. Some seem to think it makes the wordmark “pop”. What do you think? Here’s the “Mets” wordmark without the black dropshadow. And, here is the wordmark with the black dropshadow. And here they both are, side by side. I’d have to say, if the Mets were willing to eliminate the black caps, sleeves and socks, but keep only the dropshadow, I think they’d have one of the sharpest uniforms in the bigs. But until such time, I will hate their multiple combos and uniform transgressions. OK … I’m done with this now.
This and That: Speaking of black for black’s sake, Teebz attended the World Deaf Hockey Championships in Winnipeg, and reports that Team Canada broke out these really awful black uniforms — young fans in town from Raleigh were understandably upset when they saw their home NHL club’s BFBS idea stolen … The Indians just scored … Todd Krvanchi was watching the Jordan Classic, and noted that Mason Plumlee on the white team with jersey #24 on the front and #42 on the back. In addition, Jimmy Dykes spoke with Marcus Jordan, (Michael’s son), who is going to Central Florida next year. Todd says Dykes asked Jordan “If he’d ever worn any gear in his lifetime other than Nike/Jordan brand. Marcus’ response? Never. In fact, UCF is an adidas school and have agreed to allow marcus to wear Jordan brand and not adidas in college.” Interesting. Thanks, Todd … Nightlife, hookers and drugs? For an NBA baller in Atlanta? Not for the Heat, who’d like to escape Atlanta
without getting shot, arrested or killed with a win … Outta Heeeerrreee … Aston Villa had to wear their change kit against West Ham yesterday, but some of the kits were sans adverts. According to reader Seven, “in today’s English Premier league game between Aston Villa & West Ham has decided that West Ham’s change strips are too close to Aston Villa’s home strip. Villa will apparently wear plain white training tops that will be completely blank except for their numbers on the back. The kit man is printing the numbers right now.” (reprinted from yesterday’s comments) … Spring football means it’s time to show off your new eyeblack — Godboy Tebow approves … The Mariners held a military appreciation thingy yesterday — so what kind of unis did they break out to honor the men and women in uniform? Yup — somehow that’s more appropriate than the Nats and Pods, isn’t it … The Indians just scored again — *sigh* … The NBA announces a new playoff promotion for families buying 5 or more tickets: free mushroom pizza … y’know…that CBJ uni isn’t all that bad (check out the dude with the “playoff beard” in the front row) … worst wager on the PGA tour: “Dude, I’ll bet you fifty bucks you can’t hit the light house” … second worst: taking it … Puma stripes: good, 3 stripes: bad … Cleveland just scored again … Further proof the Mets can’t do anything right: Opening Day? — c’mon guys … Here’s one for Powers … who knew Mike Schmidt could cry? … Cleveland just scored again … As reported in last night’s comments, it’s hard to see here, but the Twins wore their ’82 throwbacks last night, and Delmon Young was missing the number on front of his uni (should appear like so) — I got some bad screen grabs here and here (you get the idea) … I want Vince Vaughn’s life. And finally, reprinted from last night’s comments (from James Huening): “Holeeee shit! Check out Ryan Dempster doing the Shoot-the-Puck contest at the second intermission of the Hawks-Flames game.”
Enjoy your Sunday. Did the Indians just score again?