Suing 200+ Companies Along With the Ravens Doesn’t Help
The legal battle of Frederick E. Bouchat v. Everyone Who Ever Used the Ravens Logo in Any Capacity was decided yesterday. Bouchat lost.
Frederick E. Bouchat, the security guard who originally designed what became the Ravens’ original 1995 logo, has been fighting the Ravens and others for a few years, for proceeds from his logo, lost his appeal yesterday in the 4th Circuit Court of U.S. Appeals, though I’m sure he is going to appeal again.
There is no dispute over the fact that the Ravens’ logo was Bouchat’s design, though the team tweaked it some. What is under dispute is Bouchat’s right to royalties from the sale of Ravens products bearing the logo. Bouchat faxed his design to the Ravens asking only for an autographed helmet. Later, he decided that he somehow deserved money for all products sold bearing the logo, as if companies had to go to the logo designer and not the team for rights to use the logo.
The name of the case reads like a novel. It’s like a class action suit where the defendants are the class. Some of them include ESPN, Burlington Coat Factory, and NFL Shop (hmm, they are the league that the Ravens play in, why shouldn’t they use the logo?).
The jury did find that the Ravens had violated Bouchat’s copyright by using the logo, but he wasn’t awarded any money. For one thing, he filed his copyright after the Ravens had adopted the logo, and for the other thing, the logo didn’t influence the sale of merchandise; love for the Ravens did. Good ruling, I say, though I’m kind of confused about how filing for a copyright to late would hurt him. My understanding was that copyrights applied to anything anyone creates whether or not they are registered with the US Copyright Office. Which is why the court ruled that the Ravens violated his copyright…
The full legal opinion is downloadable (pdf) here. The entire document is about 40 pages long, but the first 21 are all listing who he is suing.
What do you think? Post your opinion in the comment section.
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