SBD/November 19, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Univ. Of Alabama's Stringent Standards On Possible Trademark Infringements Examined

Alabama's funding for pursuing trademark cases comes from its athletics department
The Univ. of Alabama "may defend its trademarks and logos more vigorously" than any other school in the country, but the "aggressiveness raises questions of what products are fair game to enforce," according to Jon Solomon of the BIRMINGHAM NEWS. UA in some of its legal fights is "losing as its financial costs add up." UA AD Bill Battle in a statement said, "When our trademarks are challenged, we either defend them or risk losing them. It's that simple." The school said that it has spent approximately $1.486M in its eight-year-old trademark lawsuit "against artist Daniel Moore that was dismissed by a federal judge in September." But attorney Stephen Heninger, who is representing Moore, said that in "actuality, the pursuit against Moore" has cost about $3M since Collegiate Licensing Company, which licenses UA's merchandise, "split the legal fees" with the school. Meanwhile, UA said that it has "spent $168,771 in legal fees against Houndstooth Mafia to prevent a trademark application." UA Assistant to the President & Associate VP/University Relations Dir Deborah Lane said that funding for the legal cases "came from the university's athletics department, which is self-sufficient, and no state funds, tuition dollars or university funds have been used." The list of distinctive marks "claimed by Alabama lasts two pages," as the university "has the rights, titles and interest in 36 indicia -- trademarks, service marks, trade names, designs, logos, seals and symbols." The school said that it has generated $34.3M in gross royalty revenue "since the first of Nick Saban's three national championships" there. The school's athletic department in '06 reported to the NCAA $1.2M in "revenue from royalties, licensing, advertisements and sponsorships." UA said that it has "issued 153 cease-and-desist letters in the past 10 years regarding trademark applications and filed 25 extensions to oppose a pending trademark application" (BIRMINGHAM NEWS, 11/17).
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