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UND nickname search complicated by trade name battle

The search for a new University of North Dakota nickname hit a potential stumbling block on Monday, when former Bismarck Mayor Marlan "Hawk" Haakenson registered trade names for several of the Fighting Sioux replacement options under consideration.

Haakenson said he registered the trade names in an attempt to interfere with the nickname selection process, though a UND official said such an attempt was unlikely to succeed.

After the NCAA threatened sanctions if UND continued to use the Fighting Sioux nickname, a UND committee in July settled on five replacement options: Fighting Hawks, Nodaks, North Stars, Roughriders and Sundogs. UND stakeholders — including students, staff, faculty, alumni and donors — will be given the chance to vote on the replacement at a later date.

Supporters of the old nickname rallied for the inclusion of a sixth option, North Dakota, but a committee appointed by UND President Robert Kelley opted not to include that choice.

Haakenson, who attended North Dakota State University but says he's a supporter of the Fighting Sioux nickname, said he registered the trade names Fighting Hawks, Nodaks and North Stars with the North Dakota secretary of state in order to prevent UND from using them.

"As far as I'm concerned, Kelley will never get permission from me," Haakenson said. "I'll use every legal means I have to stop him from using the names."

Haakenson said he filed the paperwork to register the trade names on Sept. 4, though they were not officially registered until Monday. He was prevented from registering a fourth name, Roughriders, because Secretary of State Al Jaeger said it was too similar to an existing registered trade name in the state.

Haakenson said he was unable to register Sundogs for that reason, though Jaeger said it was unclear whether an existing trade name would prevent Sundogs from being registered.

"Until we do the research, we don't make any final determination," Jaeger said.

UND could run into the same problem as Haakenson if it tried to register Roughriders, Jaeger said. He said they might have to gain permission from the current trade name holder.

Jaeger said that, unless a trade name proposal conflicts with something that already exists, he has no legal basis to deny a trade name registration. 

"We don't pass judgment on what is on the document," he said.

In Haakenson's case, all three trade names are registered as "Real Estate -- Personal."

Although it's unclear whether Haakenson's efforts would prevent UND from registering the trade names, he has successfully made it a question for the courts to decide, Jaeger said.

"Once it's recorded, we are an office of record. That's all we are," Jaeger said.

UND spokesman Peter Johnson said Haakenson's trade name registration shouldn't prevent the nickname selection process from going forward. 

"We would not be engaging in any real estate activity (using the trade names) so that shouldn't be an issue for us," Johnson said. "It's not uncommon to have the same name among sports teams. But it's even more common to have the same names in different endeavors."

Johnson used the example of Roughriders.

On the North Dakota Secretary of State's website, there are five registered entities in good standing that include Roughriders, including a motorcycle club, an apothecary and a welding company.

Haakenson expressed confidence in his effort, saying he sees his effort as ultimately working to return UND to the Fighting Sioux.

"I will predict that sometime in the future, maybe long after I'm dead and gone, the name will come back," he said.

(Reach Andrew Sheeler at 701-250-8225 or


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