Mardi Gras krewe 'tit Rex changes name slightly at Rex's command

The pronunciation is questionable and the typography is a headache, but the board of directors of the tiny Mardi Gras marching club formerly known as ’tit Rex has added an unusual symbol to the krewe’s name in hopes of avoiding a legal showdown with the venerable Rex parading organization. The new krewe title is exactly the same, except that the “e” in Rex will heretofore be inverted, ’tit Rex president Jeremy Yuslum said.

9993247-large.jpgA miniature float from the 2011 parade by the Carnival krewe formerly known as 'tit Rex.

The upside-down e, Yuslum said, is known as a schwa, and is used in phonetic spellings to indicate the vowel sound in words such as “the.”

In March, a representative of the 140-year-old Rex parade organization instructed the three-year-old ’tit Rex organization, known for towing shoe-box-sized satiric floats through the Bywater neighborhood, to cease using the term “Rex” or face court action. A Rex lawyer argued that use of the term was an infringement on the much older krewe’s trade name.

Yuslum said lawyers for ’tit Rex (short for Petit Rex, pronounced “T-Rex”) assured members that, despite its wealth, the Rex organization would lose the trade name case if it ever went before a judge. But, he said, after much debate the smaller krewe’s board of directors voted to change the name for philosophical reasons.

“We are changing the name not because we agree with Rex’s claim, not because we have been legally compelled to do so, and not because we are holding an inferior legal hand,” Yuslum wrote in an email announcing the decision. “But because: This is Carnival, a time for mirth and goodwill. We do not desire to be associated, if only in perception, with Rex. We do not want to tie up the courts with such a frivolous case. We are all New Orleanians and Saints fans, after all.”

Yuslum said that his exchanges with Rex representatives have been polite throughout the controversy. He said he has made Rex representatives aware of the krewe’s recent renaming, but “I haven’t heard back to see if they find it acceptable.”

Rex spokesman King Logan did not say whether the older krewe’s trademark claims were resolved by the inverted e. He characterized the name change as the product of an ongoing discussion between the two Carnival clubs. “We’re happy the sides are dialoguing,” he said.

Logan said that over the months, other proposals have been considered. In an earlier discussion, he said, a ’tit Rex representative asked whether a change from the word “Rex” to “Wrecks” would satisfy the older organization. “We said, ‘that sounds great,’ ” Logan recalled. But that plan apparently fell by the wayside.

Miniature Mardi Gras float catches fire during titRex parade A candle-lit float in the Feb. 26 'titRex (pronounced like the dinosaur) miniature Mardi Gras parade caught fire soon after the parade began on Poland Avenue. It was eventually consumed in flames. The theme of the float was "Religion: Too Little, Too Late." The third annual parade, made up of 25 shoe box-sized satiric floats, continued.

Logan said the Rex organization offered to solve the problem by licensing the use of the term “Rex” to ’tit Rex for the nominal sum of $5 per year for 10 years, and to find a donor to cover the cost. In that way, Logan said, Rex could allow ’tit Rex to use the term, but not throw open the door to use of the term by others.

“It’s not about the money,” Logan said, but rather who holds legal rights to the term as it applies to Carnival.

Yuslum said that the ’tit Rex board rejected the licensing agreement because it included potentially restrictive stipulations about the size and nature of the ’tit Rex parade. “It would be basically handing our identity over to Rex,” he said.

The board also felt that that signing the licensing agreement would be tantamount to admitting that the krewe has been guilty of trademark infringement.

“We felt we weren’t in violation. By signing, it would have implied we were,” Yuslum said.

Yuslum said he is confident the inverted e solves any lingering trademark issues. The standoff over the naming of the small satirical parade was never meant to become the Carnival equivalent of “Occupy Wall Street,” he said.

“Intransigence is a model with which the American public is all too familiar,” reads the email announcing the name change. “If one of the purposes of Carnival is to upend the dominant modus operandi of society, then we feel it is our duty to upend the never-back-down, never-say-die manner of discourse to which we should never become accustomed. To such a manner, we sometimes say die.”

The krewe of ’tit R(inverted e)x plans to march on Feb. 11 at 5:30 p.m. The theme of this year’s parade is “Napoleon Avenue Complex.” Rex will parade on Fat Tuesday, Feb. 21, on the Uptown parade route, beginning on Napoleon Avenue and ending on Canal Street.

Doug MacCash can be reached at or 504.826.3481. Follow him at