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Rockies seek trademark protection for 'Rocktober'

10/21/2007 - MLB Colorado Rockies

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.