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National “Road Dawgs” given right of way over Syracuse group in trademark suit‏

December 23, 2009

National “Road Dawgs” given right of way over Syracuse group in trademark suit

Syracuse, NY — In a battle over names and logos, a national law enforcement–related motorcycle club has won top dog status – or more appropriately top “Road Dawg” status — over a small motorcycle club from Syracuse’s South Side.

The local ‘Cuse Road Dawgs can no longer use that name or its pit bull logo, U.S. District Judge Glenn Suddaby ruled Tuesday in a victory for the Road Dawgs Motorcycle Club of the United States.

Suddaby has given the local club 30 days to remove, delete or cover up its logo from all motorcycles, vehicles, helmets, gear, cups, pens, jackets, T-shirts, hats, belt buckles, jewelry, signs, billboards, emblems, stickers, labels, banners, flags, pennants, books, booklets, handbooks, manuals, directories, albums, pamphlets, flyers and Internet web sites.

The club has until May 30 to remove, delete or permanently cover up its logo from the group’s clubhouse at 510 Midland Ave.

Syracuse lawyer James Muldoon said part of the problem was that the public likely confused the national group he represented and the unrelated local club because of the similarity of their names and logos.

That was a key concern of the Road Dawgs Motorcycle Club of the United States because it is made up of active and retired members of law enforcement organizations and the Syracuse group’s club site has been mentioned in stories about local crimes, including a 2005 homicide, Muldoon noted.

In fact, Suddaby’s ruling was based, in part, on the fact the Syracuse Newspapers mixed up the names of the national group and the local club in articles about the homicide and an unrelated stabbing near the Midland Avenue clubhouse.

Suddaby last month made an initial ruling against the ‘Cuse Road Dawgs in the trademark infringement case. Tuesday, the judge followed up that decision with an order detailing exactly what acts are covered by his permanent injunction against the local club.

The national Road Dawgs initiated the trademark lawsuit in August 2005, several months after Mark Sardella of Syracuse was fatally shot in the parking lot next to the Midland Avenue club after he left the club where he had been drinking and dancing.

In his decision, Suddaby noted the national Road Dawgs uses a logo depicting the full body of a cartoon bulldog that is gray and white with the words “ROAD DAWGS” above the image in capital letters. The judge noted the local group uses a logo that was a “stylized pit bull head” that is gold in color with the words “¤‘CUSE ROAD DAWGS” above the image in capital letters.

Given that, Suddaby concluded there was a good likelihood the groups would be mixed up by the public just as they were in the media accounts of the stabbing and shooting.

Because the national group consists of law enforcement officers and the local group’s name has been linked to criminal activity near the clubhouse in news articles, Suddaby ruled the local club’s activities have tarnished the national group’s trademark and reputation.

According to Muldoon, the national Road Dawgs group has 15 chapters around the country, including one locally that has a membership ranging from 20 to 40. Because members are active and retired law enforcement personnel, they take pride in their group and were concerned about the negative publicity associated with the activity taking place near the ‘Cuse Road Dawgs clubhouse, he added.

Lawyer Woodruff Carroll said Wednesday the ‘Cuse Road Dawgs would appeal Suddaby’s decision. He also said he already has filed papers seeking to stay enforcement of the injunction pending an appeal.

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