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Ex-mayor tries to disrupt new UND nickname choice by trademarking 3 of 5 finalists


When his favorite option to replace the University of North Dakota's "Fighting Sioux" moniker was nixed, Marlan Haakenson took matters into his own hands.

The former Bismarck Mayor and self-confessed "true UND fan" has thrown a potential wrench in the works as UND prepares to hold a public vote to choose one of five new nicknames whittled down from over 1,100 suggestions.

According to the Bismarck Tribune, Haakenson has trademarked three out of the five nicknames in an attempt to force the UND nickname committee to choose what he thinks is the "people's favorite" – North Dakota, which was cut as an option in July.

Haakenson paid $25 to register business trade names for "Fighting Hawks", "NoDaks", and the "North Stars", and attempted to gain rights to a fourth – the "Roughriders"but couldn't as it was deemed too similar to an existing trade name in the state. The 5th option, "Sundogs", was already trademarked.

"As far as I'm concerned, [UND president Robert] Kelley will never get permission from me," Haakenson told the newspaper. "I'll use every legal means I have to stop him from using the names."

UND is seeking a new nickname after retiring the "Fighting Sioux" in 2012, which followed a long and protracted battle over whether the name is offensive to local Sioux and other American Indian tribes.

Haakenson's efforts to get the U's sports teams named "UND North Dakota" may well be in vain however, with KXNet noting that a trade name does not grant unlimited rights to the use of that name, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

And UND spokesman Peter Johnson said he doesn't expect it to affect the naming process, saying: "It's not unusual for sports teams to share athletic names. So if you look for 'Bulldogs', for example in just collegiate level, you'll find dozens of examples and the same can be said with other endeavors for business," according to KXNet.

"North Dakota" was eliminated from the nickname process after Kelley said it was "an identity, not a nickname," according to The Associated Press.

KXNews notes that Haakenson is a former NDSU student, but identifies himself as a huge UND hockey and football fan.

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