Article republished on businessofsoccer.com
In the middle of March, it was announced on Brotherly Game that the Philadelphia Union would be trademarking DOOP. It was not long before supporters, including the Sons of Ben, voiced their concerns via Twitter, Facebook and other social media websites.
The reactions were negative yet optimistic as most supporters had a significant understanding of the impact its trademarking could have if the team handled in a manner that not only took its meaning away from the Sons of Ben but also on the retailers and small businesses selling apparel created by the fans for the fans.
Yesterday, Scott Kessler, Brotherly Game's Managing Editor, sat down with the Sons of Ben Vice President, Matt Ansbro, to recap their meeting with the Philadelphia Union concerning the team's trademarking and use of DOOP:
tBG: Recently the Union were found to be trademarking DOOP, which is used for a lot of what the Sons of Ben do through goals, etc. Bryan James, President of the Sons of Ben, tweeted about a situation where the team could potentially be looking to utilize that trademark to protect its own business interests. You talked to the team Tuesday night. What was the message that the team gave you?
Sons of Ben: Bryan and I met with the team Tuesday night to talk about DOOP as well as the recap of the weekend - the first game, tailgate and everything else. The conversation regarding DOOP was a real good one. We are all very confident in the outcome of the discussions. We were able to come to a pretty amicable solution for all parties involved regarding DOOP. The Union has trademarked DOOP. At first, we were a little wary when we found out about it through the Brotherly Game website but after having that conversation with them and talking through our concerns and the reasoning behind what they did, we came away from it feeling pretty good that all parties are covered very well, that the creativity that helped bring DOOP to the level that it is at now is going to be preserved. We expect to be able to take DOOP to the next level, not just with what we do as supporters but as far as helping the team progress in their own efforts as well. We are pretty happy all around.
tBG: What prompted Bryan to tweet very concerned words about DOOP? What was the original word coming out of the front office that concerned the Sons of Ben?
Sons of Ben: I think it was the initial reaction to it; that was a part of the conversation that we had with the team was the initial communication regarding their intentions surrounding the trademark. When things like that, like DOOP is created, it is normally done organically, especially with the supporters' culture, but In the case of DOOP, it originally started out as a collaboration between Peter Nowak, the manager of the team, Corey Furlan and Bryan James. It is not like any of us can claim DOOP as our own. It was a collaborative effort but it was a matter of finding that out through the website instead of directly from the team that their intentions were to trademark it and what they were going to do with the trademark. I think it was a natural viral reaction to learning that from an outside source first and that is something we addressed in the beginning. We all agreed that communication needs to be improved but we have been improving communication since we got involved with the team, since they came into the region. We are pretty confident that things are going to be a lot smoother going forward
tBG: When you said that it is going to be a status quo, does that mean that the team is not going to take any actions against local shirt sellers that use DOOP as part of their sales?
Sons of Ben: We asked specifically about that obviously as we have partnered with Bark Tees and a lot of the shirts that Bark Tees sells have been created by the user base, by the supporters through submissions that were sent in to Bark Tees, through some things that they have had their own artists create. That was obviously a concern because Bark Tees is a small business. We partner with them. Those guys, Ben and Mark, have been fantastic for us. Not necessarily from a business standpoint or directly from a business standpoint, but as genuine supporters of what we do, as Sons of Ben and the Philadelphia Union, itself. They are there at the tailgates helping us out... They are actually coming out to do the events with us even with their not making a profit just for their own business. It has been important for us to preserve that relationship. There will be some things to announce as far as the retail [process]. We are very confident that our partners are going to be happy with what we have come up with.
tBG: Part of the trademarking process was actually using DOOP in advertisements, on television, sides of buses, newspapers, etc. How does the team see using that with the Sons of Ben in the future from an advertising point of view? Did they discuss that with you at all?
Sons of Ben: No, we have had a pretty fluid relationship. When it comes to the marketing that the Union does, we are supportive of all their efforts. We want this team to progress. We want them to get recognized in the region. We want them to overtake the Sixers and possibly the Flyers as far as recognition is concerned and attendance, and everything else. What they do with DOOP internally to them, that is their business. We have asked to be consulted going forward, not even that we have to make a decision on it with them but just so we can voice our opinion going forward. They have always been supportive of that to begin with. We are for anything that is going to help progress the team and if DOOP is part of the marketing effort to draw more people in, then so be it.
tBG: Did they discuss that they might be trademarking anything similar to DOOP, such as ZOLO, that does have an actual marketing aspect for the team?
Sons of Ben: No, our conversation was strictly surrounding DOOP. There were no other conversations past that.
Thank you to Matt Ansbro of the Sons of Ben for taking the time to provide an update on the Philadelphia Union's trademarking of DOOP and its impact.