Even though Clay Bennett took the Seattle Supersonics to Oklahoma City five years ago, his ownership group still owns more than 20 trademarks attached to the team name, according to federal records.
Owning the trademarks means Bennett could be profiting from the recent rush on Sonics gear in anticipation of the team’s return.
Bennett is President of Professional Basketball Club LLC, which bought the trademarks along with the team in 2006. It covers the Sonics name, and just about every piece of official merchandise it is put on.
“As strange as it sounds,” said Seattle trademark attorney Michael Atkins, “If you get a Seattle Supersonics jersey today, presumably the profits will go to Clay Bennett and Oklahoma City.”
The key word is “presumably.” Even though Bennett owns the trademarks, it is unclear if there is a separate agreement regarding merchandise income.
“Typically it’s the trademark owner that calls the shots, in terms of who gets to use their trademark,” said Atkins.
As part of its settlement with the City of Seattle, once the Sonics come back, Bennett will turn over the trademarks free-of-charge to a new owner.
The NBA responded to our phone call Wednesday, saying all teams share revenue from league licensed apparel, including Sonics gear.