For decades, New Orleans Saints fans have belted out a cheer that has become part of their identity as much as crawfish and Burbon Street: “Who Dat Say Dey Gonna Beat Dem Saints? Who Dat? Who Dat?”
The National Football League, however, asserted rights to the phrase “Who Dat?” earlier this week through the Florida Department of State, not without confusion and outrage from Saints fans, and has issued cease-and-desist orders against New Orleans vendors who sell Saints memorabilia adorned with the wording. The NFL asserts that the public will be confused into believing the memorabilia is sponsored by the NFL. The NFL further clarified that it is only seeking the rights to the phrase in relation to the Saints, and not as a whole.
The NFL is essentially claiming rights over “Who Dat,” a simple slang version of “Who’s that?” If a legally-recognizable line in the sand can be drawn between rights to a slang version of a commonly-used phrase, and the commonly-used phrase itself, where should the rights end?