March 31, 2011

Two to share use of Wings trademark

After almost three weeks of haggling over a defunct soccer team's trademark, an agreement has been reached to put the Wichita Wings logo back on the soccer pitch.

After almost three weeks of haggling over a defunct soccer team's trademark, an agreement has been reached to put the Wichita Wings logo back on the soccer pitch.

Two businessmen holding trademarks to the longtime soccer club's name and logo agreed Wednesday to essentially share it — clearing the way for the return of the Wings and the establishment of a nonprofit soccer organization under the same name, sources said.

Wink Hartman, the Wichita businessman who is reviving the soccer team, and Blake Shumaker, owner of Service Body Shop, have agreed to split use of the Wings nickname and logo, both parties said Wednesday.

No terms were disclosed.

John Blazek, the club's general manager, said the team will be known as the Wichita Wings 2 when they begin play at Hartman Arena this year.

Shumaker said he will follow through on the establishment of Wichita Wings Youth Soccer, a nonprofit designed to provide kids with an opportunity to learn and play the game.

"We're very pleased," Blazek said. "Mr. Hartman is extremely pleased. Step two now is getting our head coach in here and rolling out our new logo."

The old Wings logo will not return, Blazek said.

"It'll be different, because that is the Whataburger logo," he said of a Texas-based fast-food chain. "We wanted something new and something more exciting for our fans."

Shumaker, whose business sponsors Hartman's Wichita Wild team and plans to sponsor the Wings 2, said he's pleased with the agreement and eager to move forward with his nonprofit.

"I want to be supportive, not opposed, and they reciprocated," he said. "We feel the same way.... We intend to support what Wink's doing."

Roy Turner, the original Wings coach when the team was formed in 1979 and the director of the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open, praised the agreement, saying the Wings brand is essential to the new team's success.

"It's very, very important to the marketing of this team that it be called the Wings," said Turner, who's helping with the startup. "It's very, very good news. I haven't been this excited in many moons, and it's because of Wink and his group and the love this community has for the team."

The agreement comes 19 days after Hartman announced on March 4 that he wanted to revive the Wings brand.

Four days later, Shumaker trademarked the name and logo with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for the nonprofit soccer group. The Wings trademark had been dormant since the original expired in November 2002.

And on March 11, Hartman's Wichita Wings 2 LLC filed the trademark with the patent and trademark office.

In the meantime, the website has been established — but not by either trademark holder.

Shumaker said he sought the trademark for a nonprofit organization to funnel children into outdoor soccer by providing scholarships.

"We're a totally separate entity from what the MISL franchise wants to be," he said. "This should be good for our group from a recognition standpoint, too."

A Kansas attorney whose firm handles patent and trademark law said Hartman may have had leverage to use the trademark if no agreement had been reached.

Marshall Honeyman, an attorney with Lathrop Gage in Kansas City, said Shumaker could have sold the trademark to Hartman.

However, the name's long association with professional indoor soccer matters, Honeyman said.

"In a perfect world, the individual is supposed to associate your goods and services with it," he said. "My thought whenever someone does something like this is, why not come up with your own name?

"If you haven't used the mark and the Wings have a developed history, even though the mark did terminate, my guess is they (Hartman) can show a use consistent with its former use."

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