The XFL is actively pursuing a trademark for “HE HATE ME” according to Josh Gerben, Esq. , a trademark attorney who posted a video and wrote about the situation on his website. The XFL is planning to inscribe the phrase on a number of goods specifically clothing items.
“HE HATE ME” is a line made popular by XFL legend Rod Smart who took full advantage of using the back of his jersey and XFL rules which permitted players’ jerseys to be stitched with whatever words they wanted to proudly display his nickname: He Hate Me.
Smart explained the origin of the phrase in a January 30, 2004 article with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel when he said “Basically, my opponent is going to hate me. After I win, he’s gonna hate me. It is what it is. It’s a saying I was saying when I’d feel something wasn’t going my way. For example, (when) I was on the squad in Vegas and coach was putting other guys in, (if) I felt I’m better than them, you know, hey, ‘he hate me.’ ”
The XFL, however, wants to acquire full rights to the popular phrase and submitted a trademark application for “HE HATE ME” back in 2016. As Gerben explained, the XFL’s application has not matured into a registration because the XFL is required to make “commercial use” of the goods identified in the application (various clothing items) prior to a registration being granted.
It’s understood that the XFL requested an extension of time to make commercial use of the trademark but the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) asked the XFL to provide Smart’s consent as the trademark was popularly associated with him. The XFL in return said the trademark didn’t identify any individual and that Smart will not be connected to any of XFL’s goods.
The XFL’s response to USPTO is proof that the league is attempting to register the trademark without Smart’s consent. Smart hasn’t commented yet on the issue and it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
But it seems the XFL will have to wait for a while before they can inscribe the phrase on their goods. So you might not be seeing a “HE HATE ME” branded gear anytime soon.
Smart played for the Las Vegas Outlaws during his time at the XFL and was seen as one of those who fully embraced the league’s approach to football and sports entertainment. The fact that he used an attention grabbing phrase is a testament to his intention to entertain. He’d originally planned to print different names on his jersey every week but fully adopted “HE HATE ME” after the phrase became a national sensation.