The St. Louis Blues have won the Stanley Cup, but a battle over fans’ new favorite catch phrase associated with the team — “Play Gloria!” — is just brewing. 

As legend goes, the song — and subsequently, the phrase “Play Gloria!” — became popular with St. Louis Blues aficionados all thanks to three players who just happened to be in a Philadelphia social club during the NFL postseason to watch the wild card game between the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles. Revelers at the social club had a proclivity for the 1982 song, they noticed. 

“They had a DJ in the bar, and whenever there was a commercial break, they would crank the tunes, and all these guys from Philly would get up and start dancing around,” defenseman Joel Edmundson has recalled. “They played this song ‘Gloria’ a couple of times, and this one guy looked at the DJ and said, ‘Keep playing Gloria!’ so they kept playing it. Everyone would get up and start singing and dancing. We just sat back and watched it happen.” 

“Right there we decided we should play the song after our wins,” he continued. “We won the next game, we got a shutout, so we just kept playing it.” 

And play it they did — all the way through the Stanley Cup playoffs and the celebrations that ensued after the Blues took home the trophy. Subsequently, the rallying cry, “Play Gloria!” began popping up on shirts, hats, signs, and more all around St. Louis. 

But can one entity “own” the phrase? 

The Philadelphia story

The Jacks NYB, the Philadelphia social club the three Blues players visited in January, filed an application to federally register the trademark “PLAY GLORIA” on May 8. 

The Jacks NYB is a nonprofit social club involved in the annual Philadelphia Mummers Parade. Co-founder Mike Montecalvo said one member, during the construction and design of the club’s new building last summer, continuously played Laura Branigan’s “Gloria” — and thus “Play Gloria!” became a sort of de facto motto for the group. 

“We used that song as a rallying cry as we were planning the building [and] setting up the building,” Montecalvo said, adding the song became even more legendary for them after they took home a first-place prize during the January 1 parade. 

It was then — as the mummers club was still reveling in its own win — that the Blues players were invited to watch the NFL game at the clubhouse and heard the “Play Gloria!” cry. 

“When someone creates a brand that’s attractive, they either develop goods and products under that or they license the right to use the brand,” attorney Robert McKinley, who focuses on intellectual property with the firm Lauletta Birnbaum and represents the Philadelphia nonprofit, told The Missouri Times. 

That doesn’t mean The Jacks NYB wants other companies to necessarily cease creating or selling products with the catch phrase; the nonprofit just wants to work with them on some sort of partnership, McKinley said. 

‘A positive relationship’

Montecalvo said he’s excited the phrase took off the way it did and has embraced the continued connection between the Philadelphia club and the St. Louis Blues. The nonprofit began selling “Play Gloria!” merchandise in April, and by the time the Stanley Cup championship series rolled around, hundreds of people from across the country were showing up to the clubhouse — which is not a bar — to cheer on the Blues. 

“Every single Blues game from April, every other night, we had guys leaving their families, leaving their jobs, leaving their private lives, to make themselves available because we … were at the point where Blues fans were just showing up at our club to watch the games,” Montecalvo said. “It was a decision that we had to make to make our club available to them, and we did. The sacrifice we had to make to our wives, I mean, most of us were near divorce level at one point with our wives.” 

Aside from the apparel, The Jacks NYB also partnered with Center Ice Brewery in St. Louis to create a special Gloria-themed label for a pale ale. Montecalvo has said most companies have been supportive of the nonprofit in its trademark efforts. 

While the Jacks NYB has sent letters to companies using the “Play Gloria!” phrase on apparel and other merchandise, including Arch Apparel in St. Louis, it has not sued or sent cease and desist letters to any company or the St. Louis Blues, it said.

“When we found out that other companies were using our [“Play Gloria!”] trademark to make money off of it, we reached out to them to try to make a deal with them. If they are going to profit from it, why should we get a small piece of the pie,” The Jacks NYB said in an online statement.

“Ask yourself: if you created something that turned out to be valuable, and someone else stole it from you and was making a ton of money from it, what would you do?”

McKinley maintained false reports of The Jacks NYB suing other companies or organizations have resulted in “a big problem” as it’s “destroying their reputation.” 

He also maintained that even if The Jacks NYB doesn’t get to federally register the trademark, a process that could take up to a year, it doesn’t mean the nonprofit doesn’t still “own” the trademark. The Jacks NYB could still be able to prove it “created” the trademark, McKinley argued. 

Arch Apparel did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Missouri Times.