Oxford Pennant, a designer and manufacturer of pennants, flags, and banners located in Buffalo, New York, has accused fellow Buffalo-based company New Era Cap Company of using a “Shout!” logo that Oxford Pennant claims it designed and has been selling for the last two years since 2020.
Oxford Pennant was surprised when it saw its design on a New Era hat for sale at Highmark Stadium at the Buffalo Bills’ home opener on Monday, September 19. While the rest of Buffalo was celebrating a Bills win that Monday night, Oxford Pennant took to Twitter with a picture of the design in question claiming:
@NewEraCap closed their Derby plant, fired 200+ Buffalo employees and outsourced their jobs to China. When they reached out to us to collaborate, we said no. Went to the Bills game to find that they’ve swiped a design that we’ve sold since 2020 anyway. At least change the font!
As of today, the tweet has over 3,000 total interactions, with hundreds of people commenting and retweeting Oxford Pennant’s tweet.
Buffalo news anchor Jeff Russo reached out to Oxford Pennant for further comment but was told via text, “Thank you for reaching out. Oxford Pennant has no further comment at this time.” As such, there has been no word on what Oxford Pennant plans to do, if anything, regarding potential legal action.
However, in the off chance that this does eventually go to court, Russo went to Williamsville to speak with intellectual property attorney Ellen Simpson, a partner at Simpson and Simpson PLLC who has worked in patent, trademark, and copyright for more than 20 years, to inquire about copyright infringement.
Simpson said, “If Oxford Pennant can prove ownership of the copyright and they can also prove that New Era had access to the copyrighted material and they’re using a design that’s substantially similar to what the copyrighted material is, that’s how you would prove copyright infringement.”
In regards to ownership, it remains unclear whether Oxford Pennant owns the copyright to the “Shout!” design. While someone who creates a design does not need to register it with the U.S. Copyright Office to sell it, such registration is necessary to prove ownership in a copyright infringement suit.
In regards to similarity, Simpson further said, “Certainly right now you have to look at what Oxford Pennant has put out, but at least looking at it initially side by side, it does look like the design is very close, substantially similar in copyright infringement terms, so if that is the case I’m sure the two parties will have some talking to do.”
Both parties would likely wish to settle this dispute out of court as the federal district courts have exclusive jurisdiction over claims of copyright infringement, which could end up costing clients tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.
As of now, the “Shout!” hat is no longer listed on New Era or the Bills store’s websites.