Texas A&M Plays Hardball With A Double Amputee Over 12th Man Trademark

from the bully-for-you dept

You may recall past stories here covering Texas A&M and their aggressive protection of their trademarked phrase, “The 12th Man.” That phrase refers to the crowd within football games cheering and/or booing loudly enough to have an effect on what happens on the field of play. Even in situations where the target of A&M’s ire isn’t actually competing against the school for anything commercial, the cease and desist letters are still sent. We’ve also discussed how organizations could protect their trademarks by offering $1 licensing rights to the phrase, thereby maintaining their mark while engendering some good will.

Well, boy, you’d think that such a scheme might be best used when a double-amputee cancer-survivor starts a website in Buffalo, NY called 12thmanthunder.com, dedicated to keeping the Bills in Buffalo. But, nope, A&M still went legal on him.

Charles Sonntag co-founded 12thManThunder.com, a website for people who wanted to keep the Bills in Buffalo. The Aggies are threatening to sue Sonntag for infringing on the “12th Man.” Legally, it’s an open question as to whether Sonntag’s website actually infringes on A&M’s mark. There’s almost no likelihood of confusion between 12thManThunder in Buffalo and the College Station fan base. The Buffalo Bills — the actual NFL football team — ALSO have a deal with A&M to use the phrase. So it’s not like A&M objects in principle to other people in far off places using the 12th Man. It’s that they object to people using it without paying them a pound of flesh.

However, Charles Sonntag just happens to be a double amputee, cancer survivor who suffers from Albright’s disease. He can’t afford attorneys who can litigate this case — and he does have some kind of defense that his use does not infringe on A&M’s mark — and he can’t afford to pay A&M whatever it wants in “leave me alone” money.

Damn, I forgot about the Albright’s disease, which presents as a skin and bone deformity in the legs, arms and skull. But, hey, I guess with old Chuck missing an arm and a leg, we shouldn’t fully credit any sympathetic status for the Albright’s, right Texas A&M? I mean, he’s already chock full of PR-nightmare-fluid with the whole cancer and amputee thing. Yet, not only did the Aggies go after him, they pressed the issue when they felt he wasn’t complying fast enough.

Texas A&M spokesman Shane Hinckley said the website’s owners have been too slow to respond.

A&M wants all the 12thManThunder posters taken down (some are posted at area bars), and they want the Facebook group named changed. Did I mention that Sonntag is a double amputee? HE HAS ONE ARM AND ONE LEG! Could we give him a minute to deal with all of this?

Forget the damned minute and work out a micro-cost licensing agreement with him. Hell, can we get a more clear-cut case of trademark bullying than this?

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Companies: texas a&m

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Comments on “Texas A&M Plays Hardball With A Double Amputee Over 12th Man Trademark”

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AricTheRed says:

Bussier than a...

Sounds like Charles Sonntag is going to bussier than a one armed paper un-hanger, getting those posters down before the MIGHT of Texas A&M comes crashing down and wrecks his other arm & leg.

Hope they dont go after any damages, cause if this cost him another “Arm and a Leg” it seems it’ll go bad for everyone.

andy says:

Re: Re: Re:

WOW so much anger over someone using the internet anonymity.

Everyone has the right to anonymity on the internet that is something this website has discussed many many times and you attacking that sounds very suspicious, maybe the admins should start investigating you and your other actions on the internet, then show how you are nothing but a troll to be ignored.

Or do you have other reasons to gain peoples real names, maybe so that you can search for more details about them and make their lives hell by hacking into their details because you are so offended by their comment. If anything you need to be investigated for intrusions into others lives.But I would almost guarantee that you use an assumed name in fear of becoming a target. Yes some people who post here are public and leave their names but many or most are probably like me someone who just disagrees or agrees with comments and stories and wants to make a comment.

MrTroy (profile) says:

Slight cynicism

Maybe I’m a proponent of too much equality, but isn’t the fact that Sonntag is a grassroots supporter that can’t afford lawyers more relevant to the article than his health situation?

I mean, I feel compassion for what he has to live with and wish him the best with making the most of his life (including trying to keep his local sports team local), but I think Texas A&M’s actions would be just as bullying if Sonntag happened to be a playboy millionaire with perfect hair; the major difference being I hope the playboy would force the matter to court to try to push a useful precedent.

Anonymous Coward says:


Semms Texas A&M reached an agreement with the Seattle Seahawks on this. It would be nice if they would deal with someone who is a fan trying to build support for his team (not really commercial use, imho) – considering the Aggies are going to likely make a mint from the ‘hawks on the new contract.




Test says:

tl;dr, is it about sports?

tl;dr, but I must ask, is this about sports? lol

Good God, where’s my A&M F&M radio, i bet you bastards stole it..

I hate SPORTS now. used to love it.

Their ARENA’s are FEMA torture camps.
F- that. Your on your own.

You make ME pay for your god damn sports. Which ya also have made FEMA agreements with?! I don’t want the thing built! I dont trust YOU OR FEMA – not until the oath breakers are rounded DOWN to ft leavenworth.

When You got four flats and having a bad day in every other possible way while the public is surrounding you, you’ll know it’s the Universe calling on ya for being a fascist psychopath

— test pilot dummy, my true dream was always to be that FIREBALL you see in the sky!

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