The Dueling Bluejays

Creighton University, who revamped their athletics brand in 2013, finds themselves on the receiving end of an opposition filing from the Toronto Bluejays. The Major League Baseball Franchise filed the complaint on August 11 with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, claiming the university is in violation because the Creighton mark “is comprised of a blue jay bird head design in profile with its crest raised in a manner similar to certain of Opposer’s Jays Design Marks. The design is formed by thick, clean lines and outlines with no gradient or shading, resulting in a bold, two_dimensional mark that is highly similar to the designs contained in certain Opposer’s Jays Design Mark.” Toronto wants to prevent the university from producing any athletic apparel with the mark.

My initial response after reading the complaint and comparing the two brands is that Toronto must be jealous. In my opinion, the Creighton mark is unique and actually much stronger the Toronto’s. The similarities in question can be easily explained by the fact that they are depicting the same subject matter. How many ways do you think you can depict a bluejay? The view is a profile because ninety percent of ALL sports logos use a profile view of the mascot. The crest is raised in a “similar manner” because the same source material, a real bluejay, actual has crest like that. Same with the color. The design uses thick, clean lines because that is what you are supposed to do when creating a good logo.

The best argument for the Toronto claim is that in the 90‘s the Creighton, Nebraska baseball team outright duplicated (with or without permission I do not know) the Toronto Mark, Canada leaf and all, for their jerseys. Others have also argued that the new Creighton logo takes a little bit from different iterations of the Toronto mark from the past. It would be a shame if Creighton has change their mark since it is so great. What do you think? Did Creighton violate Toronto’s Trademark?