Denise Whiting, meet Pat Riley

Most of us basketball fans know Pat Riley as the former head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Miami Heat. Think Armani suits, hair gel, "Showtime" and a decidedly less elegant brand of hoops once he moved east. He's also the current Heat team president, the man responsible for luring LeBron James and his talents to South Beach. The guy's also won five NBA titles and is in the sport's Hall of Fame, so even an avowed Boston Celtics fan like me pays him his proper respects. What does this have to do with Denise Whiting and "Hon," the local term of endearment she's trademarked to the consternation of many around town? Well, Riley's also behind a corporate entity known as Riles & Co. Inc. that first trademarked the phrase "three-peat" back in 1989 and continues to hold the trademark today. It's active for shirts, jackets and hats, meaning anyone selling memorabilia with the phrase needs to kick some coin to Riles & Co. Its attorney, David R. Shaub of Los Angeles-based Shaub & Williams LLP, will no doubt see to that. Shaub's bio describes him as an experienced intellectual property and business litigator and has a sub-speciality in patent and transnational litigation, having litigated over 1,000 cases and tried over 100." Riley's move set off similar derision in sports circles back in the late 1980s.

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