Dončić petitions for trademark control
On the same day he took on Germany at the EuroBasket tournament, Luka Dončić had to meet a United States Patent and Trademark Office deadline in an ongoing bid to secure trademarks held by his mother
Dallas Mavericks star Luka Dončić on Tuesday filed a petition with the United States Patent and Trademark Office seeking to cancel the registration of the trademark “LUKA DONCIC 7” that is currently owned by his mother, according to the legal firm Brown Rudnick representing Dončić.
While playing abroad in the EuroBasket championships and leading Slovenia to a win over hosts Germany, Dončić faced a Tuesday deadline with the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to file the petition. It is the latest step in the All-Star's months-long quest to regain full control of trademarks that bear his name — several of which are in the hands of his mother Mirjam Poterbin.
"I have a lot to look forward to as I continue to grow as a player and a person and it’s important to me to control my own brand and focus on giving back to my communities," Dončić said in a statement to The Stein Line.
In November of his rookie season with the Mavericks in 2018-19, at age 19, Dončić gave Poterbin consent for the registration of his full name as a trademark. After numerous attempts to negotiate a transfer of control for that registration, according to his lawyers, Dončić provided written notice in July 2021 that he wished to revoke that consent. Dončić’s operating company Luka99 Inc., with whom all his brand partnerships hold agreements, functioned as the formal petitioner in Tuesday's filing.
Shortly before the start of the 2021-22 season, Dončić unveiled a new logo to appear on all of his Jordan Brand shoes and clothing and which incorporates his initials (LD), his uniform number (77) and an S representing his home country. The logo also features in the center circle of both courts that Dončić, in conjunction with the philanthropic arm of the NBA 2K video game franchise, refurbished in his hometown of Ljubljana, Slovenia, last September.
But his initial attempts to register “LUKA DONCIC” as a trademark under his control were preliminarily refused by the USPTO because of the existing “LUKA DONCIC 7” trademark, which Poterbin has refused to relinquish and makes use of Dončić’s previous logo.
Dončić no longer has any affiliation with the companies that own and market the LD77 brand and operate the website lukadoncic.com. Those companies, according to Slovenian public records, are currently co-managed by Dončić's mother and director Boris Požeg.
The Dallas-based charitable Luka Dončić Foundation, also established in 2021, likewise has no affiliation with the Slovenia-based foundation that recently began using the same name.
Sources briefed on the situation said Dončić and his legal representatives have tried for some time to prevent the pursuit of his trademarks from going public leading up to Tuesday's filing. Dončić said he regards challenging the trademark as a last resort in a bid to gain full control over his name, brand, charitable foundation and business affairs, since conflicting trademarks prevent Dončić from holding clear rights to use his own name.
The filing asserts that Dončić is not affiliated with “LUKA DONCIC 7” and does not approve of its goods and services or suggestions that it is associated with him.
Tuesday's deadline, however, fell at an undeniably inopportune time, with Slovenia in the midst of a challenging EuroBasket title defense and Dončić already hampered somewhat by a right wrist injury. Then 18, Dončić combined with former NBA All-Star Goran Dragić to lead the Slovenians — with an estimated population of just over 2 million — on a Cinderella ride to the European title in 2017.
Yet Dončić rose to Tuesday’s moment and delivered his strongest performance of the tournament, registering 36 points, 10 assists and a key late blocked shot on a Dennis Schröder drive to steer Slovenia (3-1) to an 88-80 victory. A win in Slovenia’s final Group B game over France would send Dončić and Co. to the knockout round as group winners, but they could also still finish as low as fourth with a loss to France. Germany had just beaten Slovenia at home in a World Cup qualifying game on Aug. 28; France beat Slovenia in last summer’s Olympic semifinals in Tokyo — with a subsequent loss to Australia in the bronze-medal game consigning the Slovenians to fourth place in their first Olympics.
"I’ve known Luka and his family for a very long time," said former NBA center Rasho Nesterović, now the highest-ranking official in the Slovenian Basketball Federation as secretary general. "As Luka continues to grow into a smart young businessman, he is simply making sure he has full control of his brand. But his focus here is 100 percent on this EuroBasket. He is a true competitor and his top priority is leading his national team.”