Tentative deal set to allow NWHL resume use of Beauts logos
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The National Women’s Hockey League is close to resuming use of the Buffalo Beauts logos and marketing material after reaching a tentative agreement of its lawsuit against the team’s former owners.
Documents filed in federal court Aug. 5 show the league and Pegula Sports and Entertainment have a tentative settlement in place and are “finalizing a written settlement.” The comment was included in a joint motion asking the court to extend a deadline for PSE to respond to Aug. 20.
Attorney Ben Natter, who represents the league, confirmed to The Associated Press the parties are in settlement negotiations and “we believe the dispute will be resolved shortly.” A PSE spokesman on Wednesday declined comment except to refer to court documents.
The dispute over use of the team’s logos stems from discussions following PSE’s decision to relinquish control of the Beauts and return the franchise back to the NWHL in May.
In late June, PSE sent a letter to the NWHL demanding the league immediately stop using Beauts’ trademarked materials and destroy all team merchandise in its possession. The NWHL filed its suit a few days later saying the league has every right to use the materials and logos based on a licensing agreement reached a year earlier.
PSE is the parent company operated by Terry and Kim Pegula, who also own the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres and NFL’s Buffalo Bills. They became the league’s first private owners upon assuming control of the Beauts in December 2017.
The Beauts have since had to relocate their home rink, switching from the Pegula-owned HarborCenter facility in downtown Buffalo, to a suburban multi-rink complex.
The five-team NWHL is moving ahead with plans to open its fifth season in October despite losing out on a large core of its top players. The Pegulas relinquishing control of the Beauts came on the heels of more than 200 players pledging not to play professionally in North America next season.
The group featured a vast majority of the Beauts roster, including U.S. national team defenseman Emily Pfalzer and Canadian national team goalie Shannon Szabados.
The boycott came after the Canadian Women’s Hockey League folded due to financial difficulties, leaving the NWHL as the continent’s only women’s pro league.
The players have since formed a union, saying they must “stand together” if there is to be a sustainable professional league.