NEW ORLEANS -- During the Saints' Super Bowl run, the issue caused an uproar among fans: who owns "Who Dat?"
Now, small businesses that were sued over use of the phrase say they have the answer, after all of the parties are now settling their lawsuits.
This week, on the eve of trial, all of the remaining parties, including Monogram Express, Storyville and Who Dat Yat Chat, settled their lawsuits with Who Dat, Inc. over who owns the trademark to the phrase "Who Dat."
“The problem was during the whole time they told us we couldn't sell things, it was in the prime of the Superbowl. So, it really hit us really hard financially,” said Keith Moody, owner of Monogram Express.
The NFL first sparked the controversy after they started seeing ‘Who Dat’ t-shirts coming from Monogram Express. It was after that that Who Dat, Inc. got involved.
‘I'm from the Lower 9th ward, I've been using the term ‘Who Dat’ since I was a toddler,” said local attorney Darleen Jacobs.
She owns a still-shuttered diner in Violet. She had originally named it Who Dat Yat Chat, but when Who Dat, Inc. sued over it, she had to take the rest of the sign down, but not anymore.
“The net effect of the settlement is that nobody owns Who Dat,” Jacobs said.
The Monistere brothers,who own Who Dat, Inc. say, “We've never claimed to own Who Dat. That's silly. We've only claimed to own the commercial rights and the trademark in a very narrow niche of goods and services.”
Could Who Dat, Inc. challenge others in court in the future? Yes. But like Saints fans every week, they would have to ask themselves, will they win?
The NFL backed off the store and restaurant owners after the public outcry.
The league and Who Dat, Inc. sued each other over ‘Who Dat’ but agreed to dismiss all claims against each other earlier this year, and said they would sell “co-branded merchandise.”