Thursday, January 18, 2007

what's in a name?

DoG, by any other name, would swill just as sweet.

So, who owns the name Death or Glory? A few years ago, a bunch of us got an email from some kid at a high school in Georgia, I think it was, who wanted to call themselves Death or Glory in our honor. Most of us, I think, didn’t want it to happen, as it might somehow sully the name, or perhaps would imply a relationship between the teams, and as we didn’t know them at all, couldn’t say they’d be good followers. It didn’t even occur to me at the time that there are tons of little Red Sox or Patriots teams out there without any hint of a link with the professional team, but then again, a Little League team would not be eligible for the World Series, while the junior DoG would technically have a shot at meeting big DoG in the finals of Nationals. Anyway, I don’t know if a few people responded or if every single one of us ignored the request, but we never heard from him again nor did we ever run across another DoG (not to say that there haven’t been copycat names like RoQ or BoG or anything else with the meme X or Y).

What got me thinking about this was that another old-timer suggested to me that now would be a good time to retire the name DoG, as Alex and I are almost certainly (usual disclaimer here) not coming back for another season in Open. Do we (and the other departed DoG from the early days) have any rights to the name? What if the team split into two factions and both wanted to keep the name? What if we wanted to call our Masters team DoG? What if the team started to play the HnH and the alumni decided that it wasn't appropriate for DoG? Could we ask the current players to think about a new name, and should they listen?

Who owns the name? There is no team owner. The members of the team have the right to come up with their own name, subject to decency requirements at big events, but what about when names are already taken? There have been a couple cases in ultimate history where teams have appropriated their names or logos from copyrighted entities (Arm and Hammer, Twisted Metal) and got into some trouble. How about Furious George even?

I knew I should have trademarked the name back in 1994.

PS. Did anything happen at the UPA Board meeting? Haven’t seen anything yet.


Anonymous said...

From Wikipedia

Death or Glory may refer to:

* Death or Glory, a 1989 heavy metal album by German band Running Wild
* "Death or Glory", a 1998 Russian novel by Vladimir Vasilyev, published in English in 2004
* "Death or Glory", a song by The Clash from their 1980 album London Calling
* "Death or Glory", a song by Motörhead from their 1993 album Bastards
* Death or Glory is an Ultimate team based in Boston, MA
* Death or Glory is the motto of The Queen's Royal Lancers of the British Army

It would be a damn shame if someone else used the name

parinella said...

Boy, it's amazing that I neglected to mention that the team name was taken from that Clash song.

I'm also amazed that we're in wikipedia.

Anyway, your point that the name is not unique is taken, but trademarks apply only in a particular realm. I am free to name my company Apple Ultimate Gear, but not Apple Computer Products. I am also not free to use the Apple Computer logo for my Apple Ultimate Gear company (this is what did in Arm & Hammer and Twisted Metal, and possibly could do in other ultimate logos that are blatantly ripped off).

To me, there is something wrong with choosing a name for your team that you know already exists (or even existed). Examples: Rogue, Double Happiness, Z. But what can anyone do about it except ask nicely if they wouldn't consider something else?

Handy said...

SOTN = Spirit of the Name?

Otherwise SOL...

Anonymous said...

Regarding the name "Death or Glory," I think a comparison could be made to professional teams. Though you and de Frondeville won't be on the team, the team as a legacy will live on, and the name DoG is important in maintaining that legacy. The Suns have a different playing style than they did five years ago, but they are still the Suns. The Boston Celtics have gone in and out of "dynasty" status. The Chicago Bulls are certainly a completely different team than they were in 1996 (and so are almost any NBA/MLB/NFL/NHL team, but this example better illustrates the point): they don't have the highlights, the wins, the rings. But they are still the Bulls, despite the roster. Bulls fans did not feel a great pride swell in their heart when they watched a fading Michael Jordan lead the Washington Wizards, though he most certainly would have had their love if he had remained in Chicago. Same can be said about many players. Shaq is another good example. Team fans don't just root for players, because players get traded, retire, or die.
The location isn't the most important fan factor, either. Not that the NBA Bobcats have any fans, but if they did, they would be Bobcat fans, not just Carolina fans, "fans of the Bobcats and of the Hornets who were our team, but aren't any more." Look at a list of the Lakers' championship titles. It will include the Mikan titles from Minneapolis. So if it isn't just the location or the players, then why do fans and aspiring elite players have such respect for the better Boston team? Because it is DoG.
Past DoG rosters have earned the respect that is given for the team, and some years, the players of DoG might not live up to the name, but that happens in all sports. "DoG" is a respected name, connoting six national titles and two worlds. DoG, not Boston, or any single player is the name that is tied to the championships, take it away, and you'll take from the legacy you helped build.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, Dog should do whatever it takes to get Ryan Todd to switch teams. If they must they should Give up their name. Dog can change its name to Death or Ryan Todd.. Think about it, this guy is way too angry to play for metal..

parinella said...

Tyger, very good comments. I hadn't really considered what the name might mean to others in the sport, only to the players on the team and those who used to be on the team.

The pro sports analogy breaks down a bit because there is no fan base, and if the team ceases to exist, no one is out millions of dollars. Someone owns the Lakers or the Bobcats and the name and the players and a spot in the league and the right to have a full schedule and a share of the television revenues and all that.

Generally, 13 years is a long, long time for a team name in the ultimate world, although there are examples (but even for those, some experimented with other names; Ozone was Burban Sprawl one year, Chain Lightning was Atlas one year, Nemesis was also Nemesis II).

And you could ask the same question about Godiva.

Anonymous said...

DoG: Keep the name. Create/Maintain the Legacy. Continuity counts for something. To be able to trace the team back is something that is key.

Other DoGs: I heard a possibly apocryphal story about you getting into a yelling match with some coed team named DoG (Delusions of Grandeur) while Moons thought it was clever. It seemed plausible enough to me, so I believed it. Any truth?

Long Running Names: When you get something good, why change? Condors is a solid name. So are Furious, Sub-Zero, Sockeye and others. Something simple yet evocative of the region or team personality.

I think teams should put more time into their namesa nd plan for the long haul. Unlike post-dynasty NY, for example: "Well, we didn't win this year. Let's break up the team, stop the continuity, get new captains and end up playing with the same assholes under newer inexperienced leadership."

Anonymous said...

Jimmie P, yeah, the analogy is a bit shaky in some respects (almost all analogies are), but it is certainly not true that DoG has "no fan base." I heard somewhere that this blogger is pretty popular by internet standards. If that is true, it seems it would indicate some fan base at least. And come on, you guys are on Wikipedia! Someone's got to be a fan. Certainly no million dollar contracts, t.v. schedules and whatnot, but respect is what I was talking about, something independent of dollar signs or lots of zeroes, something that "Death or Glory" ultimate has.

Anonymous said...

Red Tide Ultimate

20 years in the making. Same name, different faces.

Roll Tide

Anonymous said...

Actually Jim, you do have fans. There's a pretty good contingent of college players watching DoG's SOM scores and buying DoG discs/jerseys, and if there was more product, they'd probably buy more. Even casual pick-up players will follow DoG to some extent, and there's always something to talk about when you make a relevant or engaging post. Don't take the name with you into the sunset, give the kids something to play for, a chance to represent their favorite city under a name that everyone in the ultimate community respects because of its rich winning tradition.

Anonymous said...

Jim, did you write that last comment yourself?

Anonymous said...

Jim, did you write that last comment yourself to deflect the suspicion of you writing the comment before last yourself?

JCR said...

It's not accurate to say that the name DoG is not a trademark. There is a DoG trademark and it is owned by someone.

What is accurate is that it's really really unclear who owns it. You'd probably have to look to state law that would govern whether something like a partnership was formed, and whether that organization owned expressly or impliedly the name.

I'm neither a trademark nor a massachusetts lawyer, so I could only guess at the answers.

Anonymous said...

Let the team keep the name.... prime example: Chevron Action Flash from the UK. Around for 12 years and still going strong at top of UK ultimate... Players come and go - clubs should live on with the pride that they were founded on past through the generations

Anonymous said...

I always thought it was a mistake when Double Happiness changed their name to Jam.

While there was some "This is a new team, and it is half saucy jack" sentiment at the time, and I wasn't on the new team, I just felt like a team actually gains a significant advantage over time as their brand name gains recognition.

I am sure you know the feeling, but I can't tell you how many times teams rolled over to us because of who we are. When you scrap that and go with a new name, you start relatively all over.

Then again, maybe I am just annoyed at the whole ATT Wireless then Cingular then the New ATT thing.


parinella said...


After acquiring a few of the Boss Hogg players in 2004, we were considering a name change. We went with Boston Ultimate that spring (and in fact our yahoogroup is still called that), but for a similar reason, we stuck with DoG.

Anonymous said...

As the old timer referenced, here is my point.

Death or Glory was named at a time when it meant something very poignant to you guys, and to your competition. You guys had lost time and time again with a host of mediocre names (e.g. First Time Gary????). So when you came up with DoG, I believed it meant Do or Die. You did DO (beating us first in 94) for many years and that remains an awesome accomplishment.
But what now? 7 or 8 years without Glory? That is one slow death...

Maybe your and the Count's exit will inspire the young'uns to form their own identity as you once did.


D Barkan

Anonymous said...

truthfully, i think you guys should relinquish your name to the real Dog.

Dog the bounty hunter. do you really wanna mess around with that bear mase, brah?

Win Morgan said...

Hey, I'm a co-captain for a team in Columbia, South Carolina. I'm a Freshman, and with the current captain leaving next year, it would be awesome if I could get any kind of strategies or help. I know its an odd request, but I know that the team has some upside, and I'm tired of getting beat by all the other teams down here. E-mail me at if you feel like it. It'd be AWESOME!!