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Volume 24 No. 160

Marketing and Sponsorship

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).

USL Pro club Orlando City yesterday announced that Orlando Health "will continue to be the team's primary sponsor" after the team moves to MLS, according to Mark Schlueb of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. Orlando Health will "continue its three-year-old relationship with the team, and the company's logo will continue to be displayed prominently on players' jerseys and in the stadium during games." The decision came "the day before what is expected to be a much bigger announcement: that MLS is granting Orlando and the team an expansion franchise." Orlando City Owner & President Phil Rawlins "would not say how much Orlando Health paid for the sponsorship deal but said it will bring the company greater exposure as the team's games are televised." Rawlins said that Orlando Health's status as the team's presenting partner is "'pretty much equal in stature' with whomever buys naming-rights to the recently approved soccer stadium." While the stadium would be owned by Orlando, the team's deal with the city allows Orlando City "to retain revenue from what's expected to be a multiyear naming-rights deal." Orlando City said that it is "the first expansion team to sign a 'jersey partner' before actually being admitted" to MLS (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 11/19).

Authentic Brands Group (ABG) today announced the acquisition of Muhammad Ali Enterprises from CORE Media Group. ABG will own and manage the intellectual property associated with the former boxer, in partnership with the Ali family and National Entertainment Collectibles Association Chair Joel Weinshanker. This includes rights to the world's largest library of photo images of Ali, a video collection and trademark phrases (ABG). Terms of the deal were not disclosed. ABG President & CMO Nick Woodhouse said, "We bought this partly because of who Ali was as a sportsman and partly because who Ali is as a humanitarian." Woodhouse added that his company would "look for new partners based on Ali's six core principles: confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect and spirituality." There are around 40 "main brands that have licensed the rights to Ali, including New Era Cap, American Greetings, H&M, Dolce & Gabbana and adidas" (Darren Rovell,, 11/19).

In Boston, Erin Ailworth writes Clean Harbors, nearly a year after acquiring oil recycling firm Safety-Kleen Systems, is trying "to build on that foothold to promote its own brand among NASCAR’S racing franchises and corporate sponsors who might need its other environmental services." Safety-Kleen's services are "used at over 65 race tracks in North America." The firm "recycles more than 200,000 gallons of oil used during 200-plus NASCAR-sanctioned races each year." It will "continue to operate under the Safety-Kleen name at NASCAR but will be promoted as a unit of Clean Harbors, with the aim of raising" the company’s profile "among corporations that sponsor race cars" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/19).

NORTH OF THE BORDER: Mondelēz Canada, whose family of brands includes Cadbury, Dentyne, Oreo and Ritz, yesterday announced a four-year partnership as an official supporter of the Canadian Olympic Committee. The partnership will be launched in January with the company's new Pride & Joy campaign, which celebrates the national pride Canada has for its athletes (Mondelēz Canada).

SERVE'S UP: Delta has become the official airline of Japanese tennis player Kei Nishikori and will support his U.S. domestic, transatlantic and transpacific air travel. The two-year deal makes Nishikori the first Japanese pro tennis player sponsored by Delta. Nishikori will display Delta’s logo on his official website, Facebook and Twitter accounts and will participate in customer events and interviews with Delta’s Japanese in-flight magazine Sky (IMG).

BLACK ICE: ESPN CHICAGO's Scott Powers noted the Blackhawks yesterday announced that they will "sell limited-edition vials of melted ice" from their '13 Stanley Cup season, with proceeds "going to charity." Each vial of melted ice from the United Center "will cost $99, and will include an etched number of 1 through 2,013 and a certificate of authenticity." The vials "are available on the Blackhawks' website" (, 11/18).

CHILD STAR: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Sara Germano wrote on her Twitter account, "Mary Cain is now committed to Nike before most kids in her class have even finished applying to college let alone know where they're going." (, 11/18). Cain, a 17-year-old middle-distance runner from N.Y., turned pro last week (THE DAILY).