UND nickname could hit a snag with Roughriders, Iowa hockey team says

GRAND FORKS - If the University of North Dakota chooses Roughriders as its new nickname, it may have to buy the name from a junior hockey team in Iowa, an attorney for the team said Wednesday. An attorney for the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Roughriders, ...

GRAND FORKS - If the University of North Dakota chooses Roughriders as its new nickname, it may have to buy the name from a junior hockey team in Iowa, an attorney for the team said Wednesday.

An attorney for the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Roughriders, a United States Hockey League team, sent a letter to UND’s legal counsel April 24 stating the owners of the Cedar Rapids team have held a federal trademark for the name Roughriders in hockey since 2012.

“We have a registered trademark with Roughriders for use in hockey. (If UND chose that name), we would enforce our right,” said Thomas Moore, attorney for Newco Riders LLC, which owns the Cedar Rapids team.

One of the team’s owners, Tony Sdao, is a UND alumnus, UND spokesman Peter Johnson said.

UND received Moore’s letter before its Nickname Committee narrowed its list of potential nicknames to five finalists in July. Johnson said the committee was aware that any final nickname decision “will end up having some review,” which could include further examining the Cedar Rapids Roughriders trademark.

“There will be some further review, however it ends up,” Johnson said.

UND has considered potential new nickname options to replace the Fighting Sioux moniker for more than a year. The Sioux nickname was retired in late 2012 after the NCAA threatened sanctions. The university has played as UND or North Dakota since.

The most recent Nickname Committee’s work concluded in July with the list of five nickname finalists -- Fighting Hawks, Nodaks, North Stars, Sundogs and Roughriders -- which UND plans to put to a public vote with stakeholders in October. Playing as UND/North Dakota was excluded from the list.

Moore said the letter he sent in April was just to make UND aware of the Cedar Rapids Roughriders’ trademark.

“We just wanted them to know that we were out there,” Moore said. “If they wanted to purchase (the name Roughriders), I think my client would be open to that.”

Before UND narrowed its extensive list of new nickname options to five finalists, a consultant conducted “a comprehensive trademark search,” Johnson said.

“While additional steps may need to be taken to secure the trademarks for the final name, (the search showed) none of the names on the list were categorically unavailable. The university will pursue additional steps as necessary,” he said.