Rockies seek trademark protection for 'Rocktober'

Updated: October 21, 2007, 3:37 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- "Rocktober!" -- It's become the rallying cry for thousands of fans who've followed the Colorado Rockies' improbable streak into the World Series.

It's appeared on newspaper headlines and fans' signs at Coors Field. Gov. Bill Ritter proclaimed October "Rocktober" in the midst of the Rockies' surge, 21 victories in their last 22 games, with the word written in Rockies purple.

Now the team's lawyers want to determine who gets to use the buzzword, at least anytime there's money involved.

The Rockies filed applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Oct. 4 asking for exclusive nationwide rights to use of "Rocktober" -- not only on T-shirts and bobblehead dolls but stuffed animals, Christmas stockings, baby booties and more.

A team spokesman didn't immediately return telephone calls Friday for comment.

"Rocktober" has been floating around awhile with other uses.

A 1984 horror flick, "Rocktober Blood," was about a rock star turned killer.

"Rocktober" is a frequent tagline on classic-rock stations, and it's the name of a blog run by a San Francisco man.

In August, a California-based computer game manufacturer also filed an application with the federal office for rights to the name.

Then it started being heard around Coors Field. And its phrase and its variations, like "Rocktoberfest," have been used in ads to sell everything from used cars to pumpkins.

The Rockies also filed for trademark protection for the phrase within Colorado, though attorneys say any real protection would come with a federal trademark. That process usually takes a year or more, meaning rights to the phrase wouldn't have much value unless the Rockies can do it again next year.

"I'm just guessing that they hope that next year the Rockies are actually good and don't pull a Chicago White Sox," said Scott Kannady, a Denver lawyer who specializes in trademark and franchise law.

Kannady said anyone making "Rocktober" T-shirts locally before the Rockies filed for federal protection could claim they have common law rights to continue doing so.

Major League Baseball spokeswoman Susan Goodenow said MLB pursues the same course to protect team logos and names. She said a "Rocktober" trademark would only be enforced against people using the term for commercial reasons, not fans showing their support for the Rockies.

"Certainly we want to see fans celebrate the first World Series in Denver. If they're using Rocktober in a sign, certainly that doesn't fall into this," she said.

Some fans didn't care about a trademark.

Season-ticker holder Eric Makata said he was delighted the team is still playing in October.

"The Rockies don't play in October that much, so it's not that big of a deal," said Makata, a computer salesman who has purchased plane tickets to both Boston and Cleveland, who are playing for the American League title.

Kyle Wiens, a new Rockies fan, said he would probably buy officially licensed souvenirs but he said the term "Rocktober" is more than a trademark and sums up the excitement in Denver.

"It's the team, but it's also the fan base -- everyone who jumped on the bandwagon -- that owns 'Rocktober,' " said Wiens, who now considers himself both a Rockies and Minnesota Twins fan.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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