Texas A&M, Indianapolis Colts settle infringement suit over 12th Man

David Yates Feb. 19, 2016, 9:23am


Texas A&M University has reached a settlement with the Indianapolis Colts over the 12th Man Mark.

TAMU’s lawsuit against the Colts, filed Nov. 12 in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas, accuses the NFL franchise of infringing on its United States Trademarks to the 12th Man.

“The defendant’s unauthorized use of the mark 12th Man in connection with its offering of football entertainment services and related products allows the defendant to unfairly receive and enjoy the benefits of goodwill, acceptance, and recognition that the plaintiff has acquired over an extended period in connection with its 12th Man Mark at great labor and expense,” the complaint alleged.

Court records show A&M filed a notice of dismissal on Feb. 17, stating the parties have entered into a settlement.

The following day, U.S. District Judge Sim Lake dismissed the case without prejudice.

TAMU asserted it has been using the 12th Man Mark “in connection with sporting events and numerous products and services” since around 1922. School tradition dictates the 12th Man honors E. King Gill, a student who voluntarily suited up for the Aggies during a football game against Centre College.

According to the suit, TAMU registered the 12th Man under U.S. Trademark Numbers 1,612,053; 1,948,306; and 3,354,769.

“Registration No. 1,948,306 expressly covers ‘entertainment services, namely organizing and conducting intercollegiate sporting events’ and Registration No. 3,354,769 more broadly covers ‘entertainment services, namely conducting, organizing and promoting sporting events featuring football, soccer, baseball, softball, basketball, swimming, diving, equestrian, and tennis,’” the original petition says.

“Finally, Registration No. 1,612,053 covers various goods and services listed in multiple classes under the classification system used by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, specifically ‘bumper stickers; post cards and note cards; towels; hats; t-shirts; polo-type shirts; golf shirts; sweaters; shorts; athletic uniforms; and, college scholarship services.’”

The Colts are alleged to have first used the 12th Man Mark during the 2006 NFL season “inside of its stadium,” prompting TAMU to send the team a cease and desist letter a year later. Both parties, the suit explains, were in the process of working on a compromise, but the school later discovered the Colts again infringed on the mark in 2012 and the past summer.

The Colts are the second NFL team to have been hit with a legal complaint over the 12th Man Mark from TAMU. The school sued the Seattle Seahawks in early 2006 only to settle the dispute out of court.

Attorneys John C. Cain, William D. Raman and Steven A. Fleckman of the law firm Fleckman & McGlynn, PLLC in Houston represented the school.

Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas Case No. 4:15-CV-3331

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