Cats may have nine lives, but the Raise The Cat t-shirts the NBA Store put up this week barely even got one.
As we reported Tuesday, the league’s official store started selling a Sixers-related t-shirt with the now famous Raise The Cat saying, and a fist holding a cat — a design similar to the one being sold by Philly blog Crossing Broad through RaiseTheCat.com.
As of Thursday afternoon, the NBA site has discontinued the shirt, no longer making it available for purchase.
Dennis Grove, the Sixers fan who came up with the cat-raising phenomenon, told Billy Penn he was talking to a lawyer about potential trademark infringement. Grove wants any proceeds from the sale of Raise the Cat merchandise to go to charity.
Grove’s potential legal fight made national news, picked up by NBA Reddit, SB Nation and other NBA outlets, with the attention on the shirt — negative attention toward the NBA and positive support for Grove and the Sixers fans — likely having something to do with why the shirts were pulled.
Here was Grove’s response to Thursday’s news.
Grove said Tuesday he was hoping to talk with the team about a potential charity project around the saying, but as of two days ago, he hadn’t heard back from anyone with the Sixers. The team had no official statement Tuesday, but did not have any involvement with the NBA’s t-shirts, which were made by league licensee Fanatic Branded. We sent an email to inquire if the team had anything to do with pulling the shirts down, but as of the time of this publication, have not received a reply.
A message to the NBA Store asking why the shirts were pulled has not be returned.
As we reported Tuesday, neither Grove nor the Sixers own the trademark to Raise the Cat or #RaiseTheCat, but Upper Deck, which has yet to produce any materials with the saying, filed for the trademark in mid-January.
We will update this story as it develops.