NEW ORLEANS -- In the New Orleans lexicon, the phrase "Who Dat?" may be as ubiquitous as they come, but the question over who owns the commercial use of the phrase reached a federal courtroom on Wednesday morning.
Attorneys representing the NFL and the Saints, along with several local merchants, appeared before Federal Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans. The NFL is attempting to get parts of a lawsuit against them thrown out. The lawsuit has been brought by Who Dat, Inc., which claims to have trademarked the phrase.
"They're trying to prohibit us from using the name 'Who Dat,'" said Darleen Jacobs, an attorney and one of the five merchants named in the suit. She is co-owner of the "Who Dat Yat Chat," a cafe in St. Bernard Parish. "We actually have a charter from the state of Louisiana, saying that we can use the term 'Who Dat.' We also have a trademark in Louisiana."
What marked a change on Wednesday, though, was the fact that the merchants and the NFL appeared to be on the same page. That comes after the NFL attempted to crack down on the use of their trademarks and the use of the phrase 'Who Dat,' earlier this year.
"I think the most significant thing that came out today is you had the NFL and the Saints come out and say that 'Who Dat,' on black and gold, should be fair game," said Josh Harvey, co-owner of Storyville and one of the merchants named in the lawsuit.
In statement to Eyewitness News, Steve Monistere, the head of Who Dat, Inc., seemed just as intent on moving forward with his lawsuit.
"In their attempt to gain control over the Who Dat mark, the NFL filed a motion to dismiss certain counts levied against them.... Who Dat, Inc. will continue to fight to keep Who Dat home spun," Monistere said.
Yet, the merchants said they are trying to keep the phrase home spun, as well.
"It would be easier for us to walk away from this and not deal with having to come to court," Harvey said, "but we feel it is so important to the fans, the black and gold, the Who Dat nation, that it's worth fighting for."
Judge Barbier did not make a ruling on Wednesday's motions to dismiss parts of the lawsuit. As for the lawsuit itself, some of the defendants said it could be next summer before the case gets its full day in court.