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Fans of Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant may have to find a new way to cheer for him. The three-time NBA all-star has been sued over his nickname, 'Durantula.'
Rock musician Mick Durante filed a lawsuit against Durant claiming trademark infringement. Durante says he trademarked the name 'Durantula' back in 1993 and his website uses that name as the URL.
But does this mean that fans won't be able to use the nickname next season?
Most likely fans will be able to use the nickname, but whether Durant and his reps will be able to use 'Durantula' for marketing is a different story.
In the lawsuit, Durante claims that he asked Kevin Durant to stop using the nickname. Durant's reps allegedly replied by letter that the basketball player wasn't using the nickname and "has no intention of doing so."
Using the name in his marketing and public persona arguably gives Kevin Durant some economic gain from it which is part of what's at issue in a trademark suit.
Still, the likelihood is that Durant's use of the nickname isn't trademark infringement, even if it does interfere with Mick Durante's use of the name.
Registered trademarks are intended to protect a word, phrase, or design from unfair use by direct competitors. It helps ensure that people can't take advantage of someone who put time and effort into creating and marketing a certain catchphrase, company name, or logo.
Filing a trademark with the help of an attorney can help protect a distinguishing mark that has earned market recognition and consumer trust.
But the purpose of the trademark is to prevent confusion among consumers. Infringement can only occur if someone would actually be confused about the source of the service or product the mark identifies.
In this case, Kevin Durant is in the sports industry while Mick Durant works in music. The two industries don't have much overlap and it's unlikely that people will mistake the basketball player-Durantula for the rocker-Durantula.
If consumers can differentiate between the two markets, then it's likely that no infringement occurred.
It's not a legal issue for people in different industries to have the same nicknames, even if it does create some disadvantage for the less popular of the two.
Mick Durante sued for an injunction to stop Kevin Durant from using the name 'Durantula' and his lawsuit is seeking damages for lost market share.