Thursday, May 15, 2008

Trademarks and Larry Bird

News from The Indiana Daily Lawyer about a new trademark case out of Indiana. Larry Bird sues over use of name and I am hard put to think of another name in this state and especially in French Lick which lead to this kind of lawsuit.

"Bird filed the suit, Larry Bird v. Legend of French Lick LLC, No. 4:08-CV-0070-DFH-WGH, in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, New Albany Division Monday against Georgianna Lincoln and Christopher Cooke, who purchased Bird's childhood home in French Lick from the Larry Joe Bird Revocable Living Trust.

The two marketed the property as a bed and breakfast, promoting the house as, 'Legend of French Lick, the Former Home of Larry Bird Resort.' The two also attempted to purchase memorabilia from Bird and wanted to use his name to identify the house; those requests were denied.

The lawsuit seeks to stop Lincoln and Cooke's unauthorized use of Bird's name in violation of federal trademark laws and state publicity laws. Bird has registered his name as a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, according to the suit. The suit also seeks damages for the improper use of his name and for the impoundment and turnover of certain properties the defendants used improperly."
I wish I had a bit more time to dig into this one. I am a bit surprised that the seller did not impose some limitations on the buyers that might have prevented this suit. Does it seem like such a stretch of the imagination to think the buyer of Larry Bird's childhood home would not try to use the home to make money based on that association? Or that the seller would react in this way? I think not.

10/19/2008: Update - the lawsuit settled.