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Gilbert, Gores denied ‘Detroit City Soccer Club’ rights

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — The United States Patent & Trademark Office has rejected the request by Tom Gores and Dan Gilbert to secure the trademark rights to “Detroit City Soccer Club.”

In a letter sent Wednesday just before noon by a government lawyer to Palace Sports & Entertainment, the decision was made because “Detroit City Soccer Club” is too similar to “Detroit City Football Club,” the wildly popular semi-professional team that plays its matches in Hamtramck.

DCFC fans — most of whom aren’t on board with Gilbert and Gores’ bid to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to Detroit — celebrated the decision on Twitter on Wednesday.

In the lengthy letter from the government attorney to PS&E, it’s declared that “soccer club” is generic enough and acceptable, but “Detroit City” is the problem point. A message left with examining attorney Edward Fennessy directed inquires to the PTO's communications office, where a spokesman had no immediate comment. A spokesman for Gores' Pistons had no immediate comment Wednesday.

"It seems to us that was a common-sense decision," said Alex Wright, a co-owner of Detroit City FC. "Our identity is something that is very important to us and very valuable to us. It feels good to see that value acknowledged."

Gores and Gilbert, who will learn in December if they are getting one of the next two MLS expansion franchises, might have seen this decision coming. On Sept. 27, PS&E applied for the trademark rights to “Motor City Soccer Club.”

Last year, PS&E began acquiring website domain names in varying forms of “Detroit City Soccer Club,” all of which when typed in to the browser rerouted you to the PS&E homepage. Those still reroute you there, to the new website, 313presents.com, the new joint entertainment venture set up by PS&E and Olympia Entertainment.

Pistons spokesman Kevin Grigg has previously told The Detroit News that no MLS team name has been chosen, because no MLS team has been awarded. It’s widely believed Detroit is one of four cities seriously in the running to land an expansion franchise when two new cities are announced at the MLS Cup in December, and if not then, then during the following two-city expansion process, sometime in 2018.

Gores and Gilbert, both billionaire NBA owners, appear to be making progress in acquiring the failed-jail site in Greektown, which is their preferred location of a $1-billion mixed-use development that would include a new soccer arena as well as high-rise buildings. How quickly things progress on that front could determine if they get an MLS bid in December, or one at a later date.