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The fight over the soul of Detroit soccer — or football, depending on your perspective — is heating up. It’s moved to similarities in naming.

It’s clear that Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores is just fine with filing for federal trademark protection of a name that’s super similar to the locally-owned, crowdfunded Detroit City Football Club.

They’re going for the “Detroit City Soccer Club.” DCFC vs. DCSC. Here’s the trademark filing:

In Crain’s, they say their proposed MLS team (which is nowhere near a sure deal) doesn’t have an official name yet. But when people start filing applications, it should be assumed that they very well could use the protection.

Sure, Tom Gores’ Palace Sports and Entertainment (PS&E) has legions of lawyers and vaults of money at their disposal. And money tends to win arguments in courts.

But, if PS&E does continue on this path and uses their “optionality for the future,” all taxpayer funding and support for a new stadium for their prospective MLS team should be denied.

Why?

In theory, taxpayer incentives are supposed to support economic development and expansion. To provide things that weren’t already there. In those cases, we’re generally supportive. We’ve spent plenty of time praising the development efforts happening as of late.

However, in attempting to steal the Detroit City FC name — and we’re not lawyers but let’s call a spade a spade and that’s what it looks like from the outside — it feels like PS&E is clearly attempting to squash and then draft on the success of an already existing local business that has thousands of fans, merchandise, and more importantly, a community.

DCFC, it should be noted, didn’t go hat-in-hand for taxpayer dollars to fund the renovation of Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck. DCFC’s community raised more than $700,000 through a crowdfunded investment campaign.

If a bunch of passionate Detroiters can band together to pay for fixing up their stadium, a pair of billionaires can surely pay for theirs. Especially if they’re going to piggyback on someone else’s brand that they built.

Wasn’t Detroit’s comeback supposed to be led by small projects and the entrepreneurial spirit? Detroiters pulling themselves up? And what message does it send when something that is successful is then targeted for destruction through brand appropriation by the well-heeled powers that be?

Look, PS&E is a huge operation. They very well could win. Legally, they could have an argument. We’d love to have some lawyers chime in. We’re not lawyers.

But this situation just doesn’t feel right. And we, the people, should control where our tax money goes. If this continues, local governmental leaders should make clear that the MLS stadium project will not get a single dime of taxpayer money of any kind.

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