As noted in Canal Street Chronicles,
I’m sure all of us remember the now infamous fight for ownership over the phrase “Who Dat” that blew up nationally last year as the Saints were making their triumphant run for their first ever Super Bowl championship. After years of allowing anyone and everyone to use the phrase they claim they created, Sal and Steve Monistere sent out cease and desist letters to local vendors using it here in New Orleans.
Now, there is a new fight for ownership taking place and it revolves around another essential piece of Saints history and culture: the fleur-de-lis.
On September 7, 2010, unbeknown to nearly everyone, Michael Joseph Messier of Rutland, Vermont and descendant of the New Orleans founding families of d’Iberville and de Bienville, filed a 17-page lawsuit against the New Orleans Saints, the NFL and the state of Louisiana in an upstate New York courtroom. It is a complaint for damages, declaratory and injunctive relief for the misappropriation of the fleur-de-lis. A ruling is still pending.
In other words, Messier is claiming that he and his family are the rightful owners of the team logo we have come to know and love as Saints fans. You might think I’m kidding…but I’m not.
Why haven’t we heard about this yet? I really don’t know. Personally, I’m surprised. In fact, the only mention of the lawsuit I could find on the subject – other than the official court documents – was this small, four-paragraph snippet at the very end of an article from the Times Union, a newspaper based out of Albany, NY.
The basic premise of Messier’s lawsuit filing (it appears as if he’s a lawyer representing himself) is that his family were the originators of the symbol as far back as 1,500 years ago and have been using it ever since then: