Trademark Registration Applications by San Diego Chargers May Indicate a Decision to Move to L.A.

LAChargersThe NFL’s St. Louis Rams, who are moving back to Los Angeles next season after a decade in the ’Lou, still hold a federal trademark registration for “Los Angeles Rams” that goes back to before they left California. The Rams have also applied to register “LA Rams,” “Los Angeles Rams,” and “Los Angeles Rams of Inglewood.” 

Now, in another potential boomerang relocation, the San Diego Chargers might follow the Rams to Inglewood, Calif., a year later. That franchise was founded as the Los Angeles Chargers in 1960, the American Football League’s inaugural season, before moving south the next year. 

Is the company serious about moving, or just keeping its options open? Because as of Jan. 14, the Chargers had applied for federal trademark registrations on “Los Angeles Chargers” and “LA Chargers.” 

Trademark lawyer Roger N. Behle Jr. of Foley Bezek Behle & Curtis LLP, whose office is 45 miles south of Inglewood in Costa Mesa, Calif., told Bloomberg BNA that the Chargers’ intent-to-use applications was probably just “a prudent first step in securing two potential trademark registrations, not necessarily a sign that the Chargers are certain to move to Los Angeles.” 

However, San Diego native Jesse Saivar of Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP, Los Angeles, said the application probably indicates something a little more solid. 

In Saivar’s view, the attestation that the Chargers had to make—under penalty of perjury—that the team has a bona fide intent to use the new trademarks reflects something more than just prudence. 

“It’s one thing to make statements to the media, but when you put that on paper under penalty of perjury in front of the U.S. government, it must be true,” Saivar said in an e-mail message. 

If both the Rams and Chargers do end up in the Los Angeles metro area, they will join the Oakland Raiders as one of the major U.S. professional sports franchises that moved away—and then back—to their original cities. 

Founded in Oakland in 1960, the Raiders relocated to Los Angeles from 1982 to 1994. The Raiders, too, are threatening to move to L.A. as part of their bid for a new stadium, creating the prospect that, after 10 years without an NFL team, the City of Angels might be awash in professional football.

As for trademarks, the Raiders still hold live federal trademark registrations on “Los Angeles Raiders” from the 1980s, but a search of the Patent and Trademark Office’s online database reveals no new applications. Not yet, anyway.