Don’t Mustache with Intellectual Property – Updated

Playoff battles can lead to Intellectual Property battles, apparently.

In the heat of the playoff series between the Ottawa Senators and the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal’s Brandon Prust angrily commented, “We don’t really care what that bug-eyed fat walrus has to say,” referring to Ottawa’s coach Paul MacLean. MacLean is known for his mustache (see picture), and Prust’s barb led to an Ottawa fan, Jamie McLennan, making a shirt with the declaration:

Don’t * With The Walrus

941181_10151376130222234_2088983593_nAt first the shirt (pictured right) was just for fun, as a few friends went to the hockey game, but with a catchy slogan, a sweet design and a fabulous mustache, the shirts were quite popular. McLennan made some more, began selling them, and even partnered up with the Sens Foundation (the team’s charitable organization) to do a little bit of good.

Of course, every good idea will attract beggars and hangers on, and McLennan’s idea was quickly co-opted by imitators. And it wasn’t just his idea, it was his exact design (though I’m not sure why the imitator originally went with black shirts… that’s not the way Sens fans roll). McLennan seemed more disappointed than angry about it. Thankfully, the media had already jumped on the story, so McLennan could easily assert his ownership over the concept.

Though it may only be disappointing when another fan steals your design, it must be quite aggravating when a major corporation, like Sports Experts, does the same. As you can see below, Sports Experts has taken the design, removed any sign of the f-word, and started to sell the shirts.

Hopefully, Sports Experts will soon be shamed for this.

Sports Experts

UPDATE: Sports Experts has responded via Facebook:

Hello everyone, we are aware of your comments and concerns regarding the Walrus T-shirt. Details concerning the situation are presently being investigated and we will keep you updated as soon as we know more on what exactly has happened. Thank you very much for your understanding.

Good on them for responding quickly. Let’s hope they get this sorted out properly.

Jonathan McLeod

Jonathan McLeod is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario. (That means Canada.) He spends too much time following local politics and writing about zoning issues. Follow him on Twitter.


    • You’re right, zic. It does look like a clear violation. The only issue is enforcement. This isn’t a business venture for McLennan, so it might not make sense for him to hire a lawyer (though perhaps he can get some kind lawyer to volunteer services).

      On Facebook, McLennan wrote that he wasn’t looking to receive any sort of compensation from Sports Experts, just an apology and for the profits from the shirt to be donated to the Sens Foundation. It seems to me that Sports Experts could – and should – do what McLennan asks (and if it’s not clear what the profit from the shirts is, at least make a reasonable donation).

    • I’ll be doing a more formal update soon, but, yes, I believe Sports Experts are pulling the shirts.

      They are also planning to donate all the money from the sales to the Sens Foundation, just as McLennan had hoped. Apparently, they’ve been working today to get to the bottom of it.

      So it seems like Sports Experts has done the right thing, here. Good for them. And it seems they didn’t know they were getting knock offs when they ordered the shirts in the first place.

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