Texas A&M sues Indianapolis Colts for trademark infringement

Thu Nov 12, 2015 5:23pm EST
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By Jon Herskovitz and Jim Forsyth

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Texas A&M University sued the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday, saying the NFL team has violated its trademark "The 12th Man" through the unauthorized use of the phrase in marketing material and merchandise.

The university has been aggressive in defending the trademark associated with its nearly century-old tradition of "The 12th Man," taking on the likes of the Seattle Seahawks football team and a double amputee in Buffalo it suspected of trademark infringement.

In the lawsuit, filed in U.S District Court in Houston, Texas A&M said its football and marketing connections to "The 12th Man" is likely being diminished and tarnished by the unauthorized use by the Colts.

The Colts were not immediately available for comment.

According to the lawsuit, "The 12th MAN Mark was initially adopted in 1922 as a remembrance of a student at Texas A&M, E. King Gill, and his spirit of readiness to serve Texas A&M’s football team in time of need."

A dispute over the use of the phrase to refer to the fans of the Seattle Seahawks was settled in 2006, with the Seahawks paying a licensing fee and acknowledging in the use of the phrase that it is the trademarked property of the Texas university.

Texas A&M President Michael Young says the university contacted the Colts at the same time and informed them that it trademarked the phrase in 1990. He says the Colts did not adequately address the university's claims.

"We would prefer not to file lawsuits to protect our trademarks," Young said in a statement.    Continued...

Jan 4, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts players Matt Hasselbeck (8) and Dwayne Allen (83) take a selfie photo with fans after the 2014 AFC Wild Card playoff football game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports