Over the weekend, Jim texted me and told me that Dennis Grove, the man who coined #RaiseTheCat, and with whom we’re working to donate a portion of the proceeds from our shirt to Morris Animal Refuge in South Philly, sent him this Fanatics-branded version of the shirt available on NBA.com:
That distressed proletariat fist and white cat… they look familiar:
Yeah that’s ours.
To be honest, they changed just enough of the design – they didn’t copy it pixel for pixel, flipped the fist around, moved a thumb, re-positioned the cat’s leg, and added a stupid fucking “meow meow” – that I probably wouldn’t have had a legal case, and I mostly laughed off their lack of originality and figured I’d blog my moral indignation sometime this week.
Dennis, however, wasn’t thrilled, because he wants proceeds from all #RaiseTheCat shirts, all available on his RaiseTheCat.com, to go to charity, and he told Billy Penn’s Dan Levy the other day that he was considering getting a lawyer over the whole thing – mostly because Upper Deck has brazenly filed for a trademark for the phrase – since he can prove he coined the term. That’s probably an uphill battle, but the story seemed to have been enough to get NBA.com – which is also operated by Fanatics – to remove the shirt. Levy wrote today:
As we reported Tuesday, the league’s official store started selling a Sixers-related t-shirt with the now famous Raise The Cat saying, and a fist holding a cat — a design similar to the one being sold by Philly blog Crossing Broad through RaiseTheCat.com.
As of Thursday afternoon, the NBA site has discontinued the shirt, no longer making it available for purchase.
It’s worth noting here that Sixers co-owner Michael Rubin, seen here with Robert Kraft last night…
…bought Fanatics in 2011 through his company GSI Commerce, which he sold to eBay a year later and which made him a billionaire worth more than Joshua Harris. When Rubin sold GSI, an ecommerce company that ran the online stores for all of the major sports leagues and where I used to work, he held onto Fanatics and his relationships with the leagues and spun them into a new local company, Kynetic. So, in short, Rubin, who co-owns the Sixers, is the Executive Chairman of Fanatics. To say that he’s a player in the sports apparel world would be like saying Napoleon was just a small guy from France who fought in some wars and wasn’t thrilled about his height. Rubin is sports apparel. At least online. And while I would assume that he’s too busy shooting the shit with other billionaires to dabble in individual products, I wouldn’t be shocked if he fired off an angry email to someone – I’ve been on the other end of those emails before, by the way – and told them to stop selling this particular shirt.
Anyway, this seems like the perfect opportunity to tell you that you can buy our #RaiseTheCat shirt and have a portion of the sale donated to charity: