In case you were unaware, the (Men’s) World Cup happened over the last two months and is now over (the Women’s World Cup is next year, in Canada). I Believe that if you followed Team USA at all, you probably heard the infectious chant of I —— I BELIEVE ——- I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN! I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN! I BELIEVE THAT WE……

Okay, so we didn’t win. But we never specified WHEN we believed we were going to win (“I believe that we will win in two thousand and eighteen!” just wasn’t as catchy). In the end, Germany gets to put another star on their Jersey. Big whoop, we have 50 on our flag.

As you might imagine, the “I Believe” chant did not originate with the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team a mere 2 months ago and virally spread across the country like a picture of dead triceratops. In fact, students at San Diego State University have been using the chant in connection with their sports teams since 2010 and, in fact, had applied to register the phrase I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN! with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office back in 2011. After an interesting prosecution history involving two Petitions to Revive and a few refusals to register the mark, the application is set to publish this month.

All well and good, except that Utah State has been using the chant and mark since 2006 and is considering its options for objecting. So now we have two schools and the US National Team with potential rights to “The Coolest Chant in the Country,” at least, ESPN Believes so. Oh, and if you visit that link, you’ll note that the Washington Post reports that the chant originated at a Navy football game long before either SDSU, Utah State, or the Men’s National Team.  ESPN did a short video segment on the chant and interviewed a Navy Cheerleader who was the first to publicly perform the chant at a game in 1999:

I’m not one to question the journalistic expertise of ESPN, so I Believe that this is an accurate historical account. And in any event, if there are other schools or sports teams that used the chant before or after, I Believe it only adds further layers to the potential ownership claims.

The Trademark Office initially refused registration on the grounds that the phrase failed to function as a trademark, but SDSU was able to overcome the refusal. I think the Trademark Office was right the first time. No, I believe that they were right. I Believe That They Were Right! I BELIEVE THAT THEY WERE RIGHT! I BELIEVE THAT —