Last June it was announced that the FOX would be launching a brand new USFL in 2022. When the news first dropped former executive director of the original USFL, Steve Ehrhart, started to air his grievances. In an interview with the Inquirer he stated that he was taken aback when he learned the news.
Since then we haven’t heard much on this topic, but we’ve heard from a few intellectual property lawyers who’ve said that the old owners let the trademarks die, and there’s not much of a case. It’s not a new concept in business for a company to live on with a new ownership group, and without being able to show that the old ownership group was actively using the trademarks it should be an open and shut case.
Regardless of the opinions, it seems that Ehrhart has moved forward by creating Real USFL LLC and has filed a lawsuit against the new league.
According to complaint, veteran sportsbiz exec Steve Ehrhart has been actively managing the original USFL's intellectual property for years and it's still a going concern (re: vintage clothing and books, that kind of thing.) Claims Fox has no such authority to use the marks.
Sean Keely dived into the legal filings and one of the main points sited is the initial press release from the new USFL. They shared screenshots, which outlines areas that have been altered from the original. The main change is the amendment to the ending stating that the new USFL is not affiliated with the league of the 1980’s.
As part of a lawsuit filed on behalf of owners & executives from the original USFL against the new USFL, they cite a Fox press release that looks different now than its original form. pic.twitter.com/hqAnmu6KAK
At the end of the day, I don’t believe any of this really matters. I don’t think this is going to stop the USFL from hitting the field in April, or even cause any issues behind the scenes. This is a case of a former owner that believes they have the rights to something because they used to be associated with it. In all reality, it would seem to me that Ehrhart isn’t even trying to halt the league at all, rather looking for a settlement.
Andrrovett.com provides a quote from one of the lawyers representing Real USFL LLC where they give their side of the story.
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.”
They argue that FOX could have created a new football league with a new name and new teams, and by such it shows that the old license had value. Anyone can go online and search the United States Patent and Trademark Office and see who owns the trademarks, and it’s not Steve Ehrhart.
Just because a lawsuit has been filed, does not mean that the case will be heard. We’ll keep you updated as more information on this matter comes in.
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