City Desk

The Law of the Letter: Could Nats’ Curly W Be Taken Away?

Walgreens logo






The great Charlie Slowes' early home run call — "Bang! Zoom! go the fireworks!" — was rendered obsolete  by the Washington Nationals management this year.

Could his glorious winning-game-ending catchphrase — "Another Curly W goes in the record books!" — and the logo that engendered it be endangered, also?

Well, Walgreens is clearly out to stake a claim on the "W."

Lawyers for the drug store chain recently pummeled the grocer Wegmans into submission for using a capital W in its logo.

From the Asbury Park Press:

Walgreen Co., the nation's largest drugstore chain, sued Wegmans last October, accusing the Rochester, NY based supermarket company of trademark infringement.

Walgreens began using its name in a script logo, as well as a stylized W logo, to promote its drug stores since 1951, the company said.Wegmans adopted its own script logo in 2008, a version of a logo first used in connection with its grocery stores in the 1930s and 1940s, Wegmans said in court documents.

It has used a W logo on its Wegmans' brand soft drinks since at least 1992...

"The cost of making relatively minor changes to a limited number of products was much less than the cost of litigating this case to the end," Wegmans spokeswoman Jo Natale said in a statement. "We wanted to return to a logo we had used many decades ago. There was never any intent on our part to make our products or logos resemble those of Walgreens."


What if Wegmans' quick caving emboldens the druggies to go after other W lovers?

After all, as seen above,the Nats' logo looks a whole lot more like Walgreens' symbol than Wegmans' ever did. And, with what we've learned in recent years, baseball and pharmaceuticals are linked in the public's mind as much as the food and drug store chains were.

So, you want a piece of the Nats, Walgreens?

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  • Jim Ed

    I've always wondered why there's never been a copyright infringement case between the two, because they look IDENTICAL in everything but a side by side up close look. I always figured Walgreens was passively cool with it, since unlike Wegmans, the Nats aren't in any way possible competing with Walgreens and it's essentially free if inadvertent advertising of their logo. That being said, I wish the Nats would bring back the interlocking DC, which I thought was much sharper anyhow.

  • Reid

    Well, for one thing, hasn't the Nats' logo been in use since 1968. While it was dormant for a while, the same trademark was then purchased by the Nats when they moved here. So Walgreens would be facing a steep laches claim from the Nats.

  • NY

    the first nationals/senators team from 1901-1960, the teams with walter johnson, just used a simple red block "W". I think I like that one better. They could just go back to that one.

  • Friend of Elmo

    I thought Sesame Street had patented the letter W and the number 4.

  • NatsFan

    Walgreen's and Wegmans are in similar businesses. Walgreen's and the Nats aren't (unless Walgreen's has a really, really good company softball team). It's unlikely the Walgreen's curly W trademark would extend to sports teams.

  • shepdave

    The Nationals have just moved their entire "look," including uniforms, stadium signage, and pretty much everything associated with the team, to the Curly W. I imagine the Nats would fight any trademark suit with everything they've got--particularly since Walgreen's apparently did nothing between 1968 and the present to challenge the team's use of the logo.

    As a Nats fan, I'm not worried at all. I can keep Walgreen's and the Washington Nationals separated in my mind, as I'm sure everybody can.

  • Jimbo

    WTF. Walgreens owns the letter W? Who are they going to sue next? Big Bird? Does a certain football owner have a majority stake in Walgreens?

  • Falls Church

    The naming rights for Nationals Park remain available, and there's enough vacant retail space on the street level of the ballpark to house a drugstore. Problem solved!

  • Nationelle

    I also prefer the interlocking D and C logo. Long-time locals call the city DC. Certainly would be cheaper to revert to the DC logo than to fight a lawsuit from Walgreens, which might get filed if any Nats get busted for drug possession or 'roids or other stuff that makes people think of a pharmacy.

  • KM

    "I wish the Nats would bring back the interlocking DC, which I thought was much sharper anyhow."


  • Marc Avila

    I never liked the W because it reminds me of Walt Disney's signature.

  • Edward J. Cunningham

    Aside from the fact that most idiots can tell those logos apart, the Washington Nationals' logo is derived from the 1963 Washington Senators' curly W. WALGREENS WASN'T USING THAT "W" IN 1963.

    So, Walgreens---do you want a piece of Major League Baseball?

    Edward J. Cunningham
    Rockville, MD

  • Dave B.

    The 'Curly W' first appeared on the Senators caps in 1963, not '68. It was a Navy blue cap with red piping. It was usually referred to a 'Pretzel W' back then. I grew-up on that logo, anyone who can't tell that one apart from Walgreens unless they are side-by-side needs to go see an optometrist.

    They didn't say anything in 1963 and they aren't in the same business, so they've got no case.

    Also, the old block 'W' used until the 1960's was about as boring and non-distinctive as it could possibly be.

  • Darth

    As I understood it, and I may be wrong on this, the old Senators' curly W was and still is the intellectual property of the Texas Rangers; I thought that was why the team wasn't allowed to use the name "Senators" when they invaded RFK in 2005. The only difference between the current curly "W" and the old curly "W" is a 30° upward tilt.

    And for the record, I hate the Montreal Squatters. As unlikely as it may be, I hope Walgreen's rips them a new hole. That being said, the interlocking "DC" logo was class, even though they ripped it off of the Dumbarton Bridge.

  • bidwell

    Can we just get Wilson sporting goods to settle this once and for all?

  • Ron

    They should be the Senators and all would be good no w needed