Dunk City, pending
The nickname is on t-shirts at the bookstore, the windows of Alico Arena, the brick wall in front of the South Village pool and even engraved on Athletic Director Ken Kavanagh’s Sweet Sixteen ring.
But the trademark papers for “Dunk City” are still sitting on a desk for review.
According to Florida Gulf Coast University Vice President Susan Evans, it could be several years before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office actually grants FGCU the sole rights to use “Dunk City.”
“Our application to trademark ‘Dunk City’ was filed in April 2013, and it currently is in the review stage,” Evans said. “The process for trademarking from start to finish can take between one and several years.”
Christopher Simoneau, vice president for university advancement, said FGCU uses the Dunk City moniker a lot in admissions materials, signage, athletics and on Twitter.
“When we own the trademark, we will have official ownership of it. No other entity will be able to use it without our permission,” Simoneau said.
This could be helpful, especially in the case of Twitter.
In April 2013, after the University of Southern California hired former FGCU basketball coach Andy Enfield, the University used the hashtag “DunkCityUSC” on Twitter. This caused upset within the FGCU community, and eventually elicited an apology from USC athletic director Pat Haden.
A trademark would keep these upsets from happening.
But there are other entities that have applied for a Dunk City trademark. Between March 25 and April 30, 2013, eight separate groups sent an application to the Trademark Office, including a brewery in Massachusetts, three restaurants in the Fort Myers area and a sports camp in Naples.
Five of these applications have been withdrawn, while the other three are still under review.
“The office’s assigned examining attorney considers any and all trademark applications made for the same thing — in this case Dunk City — as part of the review process,” Evans said.
Because FGCU was the first applicant to start selling items with the label “Dunk City” on them, the odds are good that the university will win rights to the trademark.
In fact, sales of FGCU apparel increased by 315 percent from January-March 2012 to January-March 2013. In the first quarter of 2012, the bookstore sold $70,639 worth of clothing. The bookstore made $293,119.32 in that same amount of time in 2013, mainly due to apparel labeled Dunk City.
The other two groups vying for the phrase are a clothing manufacturer in Nevada and a restaurant in Cape Coral.
It has been more than a year since FGCU Men’s Basketball made its famous run in the Sweet Sixteen and earned the nickname Dunk City.
Simoneau believes the nickname is important because it represents the underdog story of FGCU.
“We care about telling that story,” he said. In just a few years, the story could belong to FGCU alone.