University of Alabama amicus brief ( .PDF )
Kansas University is one of 27 schools coming to the aid of a fellow school ensnared in a long court battle over trademarks.
The 27 universities have filed a motion in the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to submit a “friend of the court” brief in support of the University of Alabama.
That school sued Daniel Moore, a sports artist, alleging in 2005 that Moore violated trademark law in painting scenes from football games by showing Crimson Tide players in their crimson and white uniforms without permission.
“We just believe that we should support our fellow universities when they are in trademark licensing issues with individuals who we believe don’t want to play by the rules,” said KU associate athletic director Jim Marchiony.
KU’s athletic corporation handles trademark and licensing arrangements for the university, so it is handling the legal action in this case.
A district court ruled against Moore, who previously had a licensing agreement with Alabama. The district court ruling disallowed his use of Alabama’s trademarks on items such as T-shirts and coffee mugs, but allowed the sale of Moore’s paintings. The university is appealing that decision.
Marchiony said KU got involved after being approached by the Collegiate Licensing Company, an Atlanta-based company that offers licensing protection services to more than 200 universities, including KU. The decision could have an impact on how KU could protect its own trademarks, Marchiony said, adding that the school has licensing agreements with artists that produce KU-related paintings.
In a statement, Bruce Siegal, general counsel for CLC, said the company has assisted universities like Alabama in the past.
“CLC assisted with organizing school participation in the brief,” Siegal said. “Such briefs are routinely filed in appellate cases by interested third parties to highlight the importance to others of the issues involved. In this case, the brief was filed to demonstrate the vital importance schools place on protecting their valuable trademark rights.”
Moore’s attorney, Stephen Heninger, was unavailable for comment, but told The Tuscaloosa News that he expected other sports artists to file a similar motion to support Moore’s case.
“I’m not overwhelmed by this,” Heninger told the newspaper. “ … None of those universities have an artist like Daniel Moore. We’re not talking about T-shirts. We’re talking about fine art.”
Attorneys representing the University of Alabama and officials at the school declined to comment.