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Texas A&M sues Indianapolis Colts for trademark infringement

For many Indiana businesses, the company’s trademarks are vital to their public image and identity. When another company uses a business’s trademark without permission, the value of the trademark can be diminished.

Recently, Texas A&M University sued the Indianapolis Colts, alleging that the Colts’ use of the “12th Man” phrase constitutes trademark infringement. A football team has 11 players on the field during a game; at Texas A&M, the “12th Man” represents the team’s fans. Texas A&M trademarked the phrase in 1990, and claims it has used it since 1922.

The Colts have the words “12th Man” on the Ring of Honor at their stadium. The lawsuit alleges the Colts have also used the phrase to market tickets and merchandise. The lawsuit seeks an order preventing the Colts from using the trademark and compelling the destruction of merchandise and advertising featuring the trademark. The lawsuit also seeks payment of Texas A&M University’s attorney’s fees.

Texas A&M previously sued the Seattle Seahawks for alleged infringement of the “12th Man” trademark. The parties settled the suit in 2006 by entering into a licensing agreement that allows the Seahawks to use the mark. That agreement was renewed in 2011 and expires in 2016.

In trademark litigation, the plaintiff must generally prove that the alleged infringement is likely to confuse consumers as to a product’s origin, or that the infringement dilutes the value of the mark. Whether a business is suing to enforce a trademark or defending an infringement suit, getting the right information about the legal options can be a significant advantage.

Source: Indianapolis Star, “Texas A&M sues Indianapolis Colts over use of ’12th Man’ trademark,” Mark Alesia, Nov. 12, 2015