Kansas City Royals and Utah pro soccer team squabble over use of ‘Royals’ nickname

The Utah Royals’ logo.
The Utah Royals’ logo. Real Salt Lake/

The Kansas City Royals registered a trademark opposition against the National Women’s Soccer League in August over the use of the Utah Royals FC name and logo, according to filings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

On Monday, the NWSL denied the allegations in a filing, saying there was “no likelihood of confusion” between the franchises’ logos.

The soccer league claims that the baseball team’s opposition “constitutes a broad overreach by Major League Baseball to interfere with and stifle Women’s Soccer and professional female sports leagues in general.”

In its “notice of opposition,” the Kansas City Royals organization made a case for its distinctive name and logos, including the crown and lion, citing its history, including two World Series championships.

The Kansas City Royals “have achieved widespread recognition and fame. As a consequence (the Royals have) built up highly valuable goodwill,” the notice states.

That goodwill “has become closely and uniquely identified and associated with” the KC Royals.

The NWSL had until Monday to respond. The final deadline for the case is March, 2020.

Major League Baseball issued a statement: “MLB has negotiated in good faith with the Salt Lake team. Since we were faced with a required deadline, we took a step to preserve our rights while we continue a dialogue to attempt to find a fair solution.”

Last November, an attorney for the soccer team contacted a lawyer for the KC Royals to say Utah was considering the Royals nickname.

The response: The KC Royals are “not in favor of this, and overall I would not encourage you to be very optimistic.”

But the soccer team’s name was announced on Dec. 1, 2017, along with a team logo bearing a lion and crown.

Utah Royals FC was formed in 2017, the same year Football Club of Kansas City, or FC Kansas City, dissolved. Several FCKC women’s pro soccer players and draft picks were transferred to Utah, but the soccer club in Utah said it is not affiliated or linked with FCKC and is not a successor to the team that used to play at Swope Park.

Kansas City’s Royals claim that the soccer team’s nickname and lion and crown designs “constituted an attempt to tie the name and logo to the former Kansas City location of the predecessor team it replaced by trading on the goodwill and recognition of the (KC Royals).”

Blair Kerkhoff

Blair Kerkhoff covers the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals and college sports for The Star.

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