If UND chooses Roughriders as its new nickname, it may have to buy the name from a junior hockey team in Iowa, an attorney for the team said Wednesday.
An attorney for the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Roughriders, a United States Hockey League team, sent a letter to UND’s legal counsel April 24 stating the owners of the Cedar Rapids team have held a federal trademark for the name Roughriders in hockey since 2012.
“We have a registered trademark with Roughriders for use in hockey. (If UND chose that name), we would enforce our right,” said Thomas Moore, attorney for Newco Riders LLC, which owns the Cedar Rapids team.
One of the team’s owners, Tony Sdao, is a UND alumnus, UND spokesman Peter Johnson said.
UND received Moore’s letter before its Nickname Committee narrowed its list of potential nicknames to five finalists in July. Johnson said the committee was aware that any final nickname decision “will end up having some review,” which could include further examining the Cedar Rapids Roughriders trademark.
“There will be some further review, however it ends up,” Johnson said.
UND has considered potential new nickname options to replace the Fighting Sioux moniker for more than a year. The Sioux nickname was retired in late 2012 after the NCAA threatened sanctions. Since then, the university has played as UND/North Dakota.
The Nickname Committee’s work concluded in July when it presented a list of five nickname finalists -- Fighting Hawks, Nodaks, North Stars, Sundogs and Roughriders -- which UND plans to put to a public vote with UND stakeholders in October. Playing as UND/North Dakota was ultimately rejected by the committee, and President Robert Kelley said last week he would not place that option back on the ballot for a public vote.
Moore said the letter he sent in April was simply to make UND aware of the Cedar Rapids Roughriders’ trademark.
“We just wanted them to know that we were out there,” Moore said. “If they wanted to purchase (the name Roughriders), I think my client would be open to that.”
Moore said he has not received any response from UND regarding the letter.
Johnson said UND representatives have discussed the issue directly with Sdao but have yet to contact his lawyer.
Sdao, through Moore, declined to comment for this article.
Before UND narrowed its extensive list of new nickname options to five finalists, a consultant conducted “a comprehensive trademark search,” Johnson said.
“While additional steps may need to be taken to secure the trademarks for the final name, (the search showed) none of the names on the list were categorically unavailable. The university will pursue additional steps as necessary,” he said.
UND Nickname Committee Chairman Karl Goehring said he was not aware of the specific letter regarding the Cedar Rapids Roughriders, but the committee was informed of the trademark.
He said the committee was told there was no reason to exclude Roughriders as a possible nickname, but there may be “more hurdles” associated with it.
“I guess we just took the information as it was,” Goehring said.
Moore said the Cedar Rapids Roughriders’ concern with UND is tied to the university’s prominent hockey program, because “consumers could become confused” between the two hockey teams.
“It doesn’t matter that they don’t directly compete,” he said.
The Cedar Rapids Roughriders’ website shows its team colors -- green and white -- are similar to UND.