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Is "New York Empire" Out As Potential Knicks' NBA D-League Team Name?

The NBA D-League has filed for ownership of five potential team names for the Knicks' forthcoming minor league team, but may fall short of getting approved for at least one of them.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Amid the Phil Jackson to Knicks rumors and subsequent announcement on Tuesday, our pal Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the NBA D-League had filed for ownership of five potential team names for its forthcoming minor league team in White Plains, New York (to be owned and operated by the Knicks).

However, such applications are all currently still pending. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, two (pending) trademarks were filed for each name --- one pertaining to "entertainment and educational services" and another pertaining to an assortment of team apparel.

All of these were filed on March 7th.

The aforementioned potential team names are as follows: New York Plainsmen, the New York Hutch, the New York 914s, the New York Empire, and the New York 'Bockers.

While some of these names have nicer rings than others, there is in fact already an "New York Empire" squad that plays its games in the Big Apple. The team of the same name plays Ultimate Frisbee and has been a part of the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) since the start of the 2013 season.

When reached by, the organization had no comment regarding the Knicks' D-League (team) name.

Through a search of the USPTO's records, no trademark by the AUDL could be found. That does not necessarily mean the league does not have one. It does, however, suggest the trademark may be unregistered. According to the USPTO, one can still "establish rights in a mark based on use of the mark in commerce, without a registration. However, owning a federal trademark registration on the Principal Register provides several important benefits."

One of those benefits is having the trademark appear in similar searches. Some further benefits (and other information) can be found by clicking here.

Still, two organizations of the same name (one in the AUDL and another in the NBA D-League, for example) could still go on to pre-exist because of their non-related fields. It may result in any undue confusion between the two.

For what it's worth, no other existing trademarks pertaining to any of the other pending team names filed for ownership by the D-League could be found via the same search.