SBD/July 2, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Texas A&M Files Complaints Against Bills Fans Over Use Of 12th Man Phrase

Texas A&M “lodged two complaints this week” against four Bills fans for “using a website with a common football phrase that infringed on its trademark,” according to Mark Sommer of the BUFFALO NEWS. The school also “held out the possibility of legal action” over the 12thManThunder.com website, which promotes keeping the Bills in Buffalo. Texas A&M owns the rights to the term “the 12th man.” Site co-Founder Charles Sonntag, a double amputee and cancer survivor, said, “My experience has proven two things: a handicapped person can accomplish just about anything -- and Texas A&M will sue just about anybody.” The site’s founders said that they “cooperated by changing the name to ‘BillsFanThunder.com.’” But Sonntag said that Texas A&M “was not satisfied with the pace.” Texas A&M attorneys also “demanded that all 250 posters mentioning the website be taken down from restaurants and bars and returned to the university.” Texas A&M interim VP/Marketing & Communication Shane Hinckley said that the site’s owners “have been too slow to respond.” He said, “We have been negotiating about a turnover date for several weeks. When it became apparent they would not make that change, we gave them a deadline of last Friday to respond. The domain name still needs to be transferred from their ownership. It is still redirecting to their website. Their use of social media is still in question.” Sommer notes site designer Extreme 360 also was “reprimanded by the university” (BUFFALO NEWS, 7/2).
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