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?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymouse, Jul 8th, 2014 @ 3:56pm

    I guess the lawyers would be the 13th Man?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), Jul 8th, 2014 @ 4:00pm

    Everything is bigger in Texas!

    ...including the idiots.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jul 8th, 2014 @ 4:01pm

    Companies with 'jumpy' lawyers really should keep an independent PR team/company on retainer, for situations like this, so they can get an outside opinion as to just what a particular legal action will look like before committing PR suicide.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    AricTheRed (profile), Jul 8th, 2014 @ 4:08pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    miatajim (profile), Jul 8th, 2014 @ 4:14pm

    Pophat smoke signal.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2014 @ 4:39pm

    Re:

    Definitely! Go Get 'em Ken!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2014 @ 4:42pm

    I'm so confused by the use of this trademark by someone other than Texas A&M, how is anyone to know the difference?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Whatever, Jul 8th, 2014 @ 5:40pm

    Mike Masnick just hates it when copyright law is enforced.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Capt ICE Enforcer, Jul 8th, 2014 @ 5:47pm

    Shouldn't but I did,

    I am a glass half full person. If he lost his left arm and left leg then he should be ALL RIGHT...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Whatever, Jul 8th, 2014 @ 6:30pm

    Re:

    Mike Masnick just hates it when copyright law is abused.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    sorrykb (profile), Jul 8th, 2014 @ 6:44pm

    Re: Re:

    Definitely! Go Get 'em Ken!

    Aw, c'mon, Ken just got back. Let's give him a bit of a break.

    I'm guessing this might also attract enough negative public attention that someone at Texas A&M will see, if not reason, at least the PR nightmare. Maybe. I've thought that before and been wrong.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    Gracey (profile), Jul 8th, 2014 @ 6:44pm

    Re:

    What copyright?

    Trademark and copyright are not the same thing.

    ... doncha just hate it when someone doesn't read the article before commenting?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    MrTroy (profile), Jul 8th, 2014 @ 7:55pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2014 @ 11:46pm

    Re:

    It wasn't insightful or funny the first time, and it sure as hell hasn't gotten any better.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    sinsi (profile), Jul 9th, 2014 @ 2:47am

    First thing I thought of

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2014 @ 3:58am

    Re:

    "Forgot" to log in again, jackass?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2014 @ 4:55am

    umm...

    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.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seattle_Seahawks#12th_Man

    http://www.cybersportsblog.com/06arc hives/may/12th-man-trademark-lawsuit.html

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/aliciajessop/2014/01/31/texas-a m-stands-to-earn-more-in-upcoming-12th-man-trademark-licensing-negotiations-as-seahawks-exposure-ris es/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    andy, Jul 9th, 2014 @ 5:12am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Michael, Jul 9th, 2014 @ 5:18am

    I'm not sure how "12th Man" isn't too descriptive to get trademark protection in the first place. Are you basically screwed for describing groups of men with more then 11 members?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    Vidiot (profile), Jul 9th, 2014 @ 5:29am

    This just in

    Breaking news...

    Texas A&M sued by Graham Greene, Somerset Maugham and Paddy Chayefsky, from beyond the grave, over potential confusion between "The Tenth Man" (each author used that title for a play or book) and their stupid football cheer.

    I'm mostly confused as to why a trademark was granted. Great danger of confusion over that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2014 @ 6:19am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Except that this isn't the first time this asshole has posted shit like this.

    ...Hell, he posts shit regardless of whether he logs in or out.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2014 @ 7:49am

    Re: umm...

    Yeah, but A&M wants an arm and a leg for licensing deals like that which is a little more than he can afford to pay.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    wesley (profile), Jul 9th, 2014 @ 8:19am

    Re: Bussier than a...

    you ignorant troll, you should be ashamed of yourself

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    wesley (profile), Jul 9th, 2014 @ 8:28am

    Re: Shouldn't but I did,

    no you shouldn't have...you're a sick, sick excuse for a human being

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    wesley (profile), Jul 9th, 2014 @ 8:31am

    Re: Re: umm...

    your puns are disgusting, and only show your ignorance!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2014 @ 8:56am

    Re: Re: Re: umm...

    I suppose A&M lawyers figure this will be an easy case since the where the defense won't be able to stand up in court.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2014 @ 9:02am

    Re: Re: Re: umm...

    Maybe he should just change the domain of the site to the 11andahalfmanthunder.com.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Test, Jul 9th, 2014 @ 9:04am

    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!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2014 @ 11:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: umm...

    Not even the least little bit amusing..........and you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about, so crawl back under your rock and stop wasting our time with your small-minded nonsense!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 9th, 2014 @ 11:32am

    FYI He does NOT have Albright's disease!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    AnonyBabs, Jul 9th, 2014 @ 2:03pm

    Re: Slight cynicism

    Yeah, this. I suppose the authors' intent is to emphasize the utter heartlessness of Texas A&M, but it's the same level of trademark bullying regardless of the victim's circumstances.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    wesley, Jul 10th, 2014 @ 8:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: umm...

    (this comment is FOR anonymous coward)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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