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Dodgers Make a Play for 'Los Doyers' Trademark

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"Los Doyers" T-shirt by Think Latin Style purchased in less regulated times. Photo: Lisa Borodkin/LAist
The Dodgers have come a long way since Brooklyn. Having traded the Brooklyn trolleys for the Dodger Stadium Express, the only thing LA Dodger fans may be dodging in the near future may be search warrants from the anti-counterfeiting unit.

The Dodgers continue to fit right into LA's diverse ethnic melting pot by applying for two federal marks in their affectionate, Latino-inflected nickname "Los Doyers." The story about the two marks was broken over the weekend by Roberto Baly of the Dodger networked blog Vin Scully is My Homeboy. One is a trademark for goods ranging from sports apparel to Halloween costumes. The other is a service mark covering entertainment, educational services, fantasy leagues, sports events and news. The team applied for both marks on August 18, 2010.

For those not familiar with the nickname, "Los Doyers" is the phonetic spelling of how the team name is pronounced with a Latino accent. Although it started in the streets, the alternate spelling has been embraced by mainstream fans across the board over the past several years, with the nickname appearing on "Los Doyers" shirts, homemade signs and body-panted fans at Dodger games.

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The Dodgers are not shy about splashy publicity moves, as befits the team representing the show biz capital of the world. Along with moving from Ebbetts Field to Chavez Ravine in 1958, and getting their own zip code for Dodgertown, California in 2008, the legal play is very much in character for the Dodger's penchant for irreverent publicity stunts and savvy marketing moves. Manny Ramirez a Dodger for a couple seasons? No problem - left field is "Mannywood." Tough to sell seats in the upper deck? Voilà "Bleacher Beach."

Applying for federal trademarks is also consistent with Major League Baseball's traditionally robust intellectual property protection program. Contrary to some reports, the trademarks have not actually issued - they were just applied for on August 18, 2010. "The trademark office doesn't move that fast," said Mary L. Kevlin, the New York attorney who filed the registration on behalf of the "Doyers" with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Everybody loves the "Doyers" nickname, but there are a range of reactions to the club's trademark application. Mario Flores, Managing Director of Sportivo, a sports PR agency in Los Angeles, summed up his mixed feelings. "I have 2 views of it," Flores said. "From a professional sports marketing view, it's a brilliant move by the team. They see the fans wearing the t-shirts - not only Latino fans, and not just sports fans -- it's a kitschy thing. Its nice."

But the home-grown Flores also has some ambivalence about "Los Doyers" going corporate. "Growing up in LA, that's the way it was said in my household. The t-shirts started in the streets, and snowballed from there." Part of him would like to see the t-shirts remain a staple of street vendors in Santee Alley and elsewhere, in keeping with the nickname's roots.

In fact, the LA baseball Dodgers are not the first to apply for a trademark in "Los Doyers." From June 2009 to March 2010, a U.S.-Mexico partnership between Frank Quezada and and Jaine Delgadillo had an application pending for "Los Doyers." The application apparently expired of its own accord, leaving the mark open for the Dodgers to apply. Perhaps now that the team seems to have taken a break from trying to win the Western Division, they had some time to go through the Trademark Office records.

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Trademarks can ordinarily take between six months and a couple of years to issue, depending on whether the government lawyers find the mark distinctive and from an identifiable source. However, the Dodgers have begun efforts to secure their rights by requesting that at least one website cease and desist from selling "Los Doyers" t-shirts. It will be up to Uncle Sam to decide if the franchise will have the exclusive rights to sell "Los Doyers" merchandise and services. (No word on whether the team plans to sell "Doyers" bandanas, as the Quezada-Delgadillo application sought the "Doyers" mark for "bandanas," whereas the Dodgers did not.)

Issuance and enforcement of the "Los Doyers" mark would undoubtedly see an increase in the sales price of such merchandise. LAist purchased a "Los Doyers" shirt earlier this summer in Santee Alley for $5. If you're interested, you better get Downtown to scoop one up before the Fashion Umpires call foul. The door is still open, however, for K-town, Armenian and other Dodger fans to trademark their way of pronouncing the team's name.

Thanks to @Latinosportsguy for the tip (via Twitter).