On Monday, the old USFL filed a motion to seek a preliminary injunction blocking Fox Sports from using the USFL name and team names. We now have a date for that trial, Wednesday, March 16th. Thirty days before the USFL will kick off its first game. The motion was filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California.
Press release from the old USFL’s Lawyers.
“FOX is trying to reap where it did not sow and profit from confusion among fans of the real USFL, by claiming the legacy of something it didn’t build.,” says Nicholas Matich of the McKool Smith law firm, which represents the Real USFL LLC, the organization of former USFL owners and executives. “The Real USFL is acting to protect the legacy of the players, owners, coaches, and staff of the historic league. Quite simply FOX is claiming to be something that it’s not—the heir of the 1980s league that launched numerous hall-of-fame careers and changed the game of football.”
“FOX could have easily started its own league with new teams, but instead chose to take the goodwill and nostalgia of the original league without the permission of the people who actually created it,” says Alex Brown of The Lanier Law Firm, co-counsel for the former USFL owners and executives. “FOX can’t dispute that the ‘Real USFL’ marks are recognizable and valued because they’re using them and purposefully confusing its league with the original. Rather than do the right thing, FOX has chosen to try and bully the prior owners into submission. That’s not going to happen.”
Mike Florio from Pro Football Talk explains what the old USFL hopes to do.
“The plaintiff hopes to persuade the presiding judge that the chances of winning are so strong, and the interests at play so important, that the relief ultimately sought should be granted while the underlying legal questions are addressed.”
The question boils down to who owns the Trademarks. Fox Sports lawyers said the following.
“The lawsuit filed yesterday by an entity formed just a week ago is completely without merit. The new USFL registered its intellectual property rights in 2011 and is excited to launch games on schedule on April 16th. The eleventh-hour attempt to extract value from the exciting new USFL is utterly frivolous, and we are exploring all options for redress.”
We will find out on March 16th if the old USFL has a strong enough case or not. If you don’t own the trademark, what case do you have?
The USFL’s inaugural game between the New Jersey Generals and Birmingham Stallions will kick-off on April 16th, simulcast on FOX and NBC.