University of Alabama Trademark Infringement Claim Headed to Court

By Joseph Mandour on February 10, 2012

Trademark Infringement San Diego – A federal appeals court will hear arguments in a trademark infringement battle between sports artist Daniel Moore and the University of Alabama, whose football program is portrayed in a number of his works. The two parties will present their cases to the United States Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta later this week.

The trademark infringement dispute began back in 2005 when the university sued Moore for allegedly violating trademark law after he had painted scenes from football games depicting Crimson Tide players in their crimson and white football uniforms without the authorization of the University. The University of Alabama’s complaint also contends that Moore reissued previously licensed prints of the football players without paying any royalties to the University, located in Tuscaloosa.

Both parties appealed their cases after a judge’s ruling in 2009 found that Moore’s paintings and prints were protected under trademark law but that other items, such as coffee mugs, weren’t. United States District Court Judge Robert Propst ruled that Moore’s artwork depicted on mugs, T-shirts, and other merchandise did indeed infringe on the University’s trademark.

The Birmingham-based artist stated that the items covered in Judge Propst’s ruling are “incidental items” that are a very small part of his business in terms of revenue. He added that he was pleased with the judge’s ruling that his paintings and large prints have not, do not, and will not infringe on the University’s trademark, because those are the “meat and potatoes” of his business.

In his defense, Moore denied violating trademark laws and maintained that his artwork constitutes free speech under the United States Constitution. “The University of Alabama believes the court ruled correctly when it found that Daniel Moore and his company engaged in activities that infringe on the University’s trademarks,” commented University spokeswoman Deborah Lane. “While we regret the necessity of having to involve the courts in this matter, the lawsuit was necessary since the University of Alabama must protect the value and reputation of our trademarks, name, colors, indicia, and logos, by determining who uses them, as well as when and how they are used.”

Moore’s paintings and prints illustrate some of the more pivotal moments in Alabama sports history, including “The Goal Line Stand” from the 1979 Sugar Bowl game against Penn State. His latest work of art is reportedly going to depict “The Shoutout” from last season’s national championship win over LSU.

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