Who Dat? Inc. Sues NFL Properties, New Orleans Saints, La.

The company that made a 1983 recording of what became one of the New Orleans Saints’ most popular cheers has filed a trademark suit against the state and the team.

NFL Properties LLC, which deals with National Football League trademarks, and state Attorney General James D. “Buddy” Caldwell also are defendants in the suit filed last Thursday in federal district court in Baton Rouge by Who Dat? Inc.

The chant is “Who dat? Who dat? Who dat say gonna beat dem Saints?” It’s often shortened to just “Who Dat?”

Brothers Sal and Steve Monistere owned a recording company that got five Saints players to chant the cheer as Aaron Neville sang “When the Saints go Marching In” _ a record that became an instant hit in 1983.

Their Who Dat? Inc. is acting as its own attorney in the trademark suit.

Caldwell said Friday he’s confident Who Dat? cannot win. “No one owns (the phrase) Who Dat. And the NFL says they don’t own it either. Neither do these guys.”

Steve Monistere said he obtained a trademark for Who Dat? in October 1983 from the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office, and a second one the following month.

The defendants damaged the company’s right to profit before the Saints’ Super Bowl championship last month, the suit alleges.

NFL Properties claimed rights to the phrase and the fleur-de-lis, which the team uses as a logo. It backed down after Caldwell said both are public domain.

Saints spokesman Doug Miller said the team knows about the lawsuit but doesn’t talk about pending litigation.

The Monistere brothers said that after Caldwell’s news release, people who didn’t own the trademark rights sold inferior copycat merchandise.

The Monistere brothers said they had profited from their firm’s marketing efforts in the past, but had dreamed for decades of boosting those profits during a Saints appearance in the Super Bowl.

“The dream became a nightmare,” the brothers wrote.