BATON ROUGE (CN) - Who Dat? Inc. claims the New Orleans Saints and NFL Properties are taking a free ride on 25 years of Who Dat's hard work promoting the trademarked phrase, "Who Dat?" The two brothers who run Who Dat? say they coined the phrase in 1983 as a Saints battle cry, and now the Saints and the NFL are unfairly cashing in on it.
According to the federal complaint, Who Dat? "was uniquely positioned to reap substantial financial rewards in connection with the 2009-2010 National Football League season," when the Saints won their first Super Bowl.
But "On the eve of that success NFLP and the Saints filed public documents claiming ownership and first use of the phrase," according to the complaint.
"As anyone would have anticipated, the public voiced outrage and State of Louisiana officials publicly challenged the claims made by the NFLP and Saints. Since those entities were not the first users of the phrase and had no standing to make the claims made, they publically conceded that they did not own the phrase," Who Dat? says.
But wait; it gets worse: "With that concession in hand, state officials declared victory and further declared that the phrase belongs to the people, as it is in the public domain. As a natural consequence of these actions, Who Dat?, Inc. was not able to obtain the financial fruits of its labor."
Who Dat? says, "the Saints and NFLP successfully played their cards to make sure that if they were not going to profit from the success of Who Dat then nobody would, despite that the mark has become one of the most recognizable in all America and quickly became well-known around the world."
Brothers Sal and Steve Monistere say they were born and raised within a few miles of the Louisiana Superdome. According to their 60-page complaint, the brothers "were in attendance for the Saints' first exciting kickoff in 1967, Dempsey's historic field goal, and as season ticket holders experienced many of the ups and downs over the years.
"Simply put, they are big Saints fans and are the proud founding members of the 'Who Dat Nation!'"
Steve Monistere says that in 1983, he "decided to develop a phrase that could be used as a battle cry unique to fans of the Saints."
With the help of his friend Carlo Nuccio, Monistere says he created Who Dat? Inc. and trademarked the phrase "Who Dat?" in 1983.
Who Dat? Inc. also produced the original Who Dat? song featuring Aaron Neville and a handful of Saints players, according to the complaint. At that point, "Who Dat Nation" was born and "Who Dat? Inc. was living the dream," the complaint states.
Who Dat? Inc. has been selling goods and services since 1983, including sound recordings, live events, a fan club, clothing, compact discs, paper goods, advertisements, coffee, champagne, soft drinks and snacks.
Who Dat? Inc. says developed and produced radio and TV jingles to promote its brand. If not for Who Dat? Inc.'s "hard work and investments in time, energy, and money put forth," Who Dat? Inc. insists, the phrase Who Dat? "would not have gained the recognition it enjoys today."