Wednesday, September 25, 2013
The University of Alabama Board of Trustees and Paul W. Bryant Jr. recently filed a federal trademark infringement and unfair competition lawsuit aimed at keeping merchandise made by Houndstooth Mafia Enterprises off store shelves.
The company’s merchandise uses the Houndstooth Mafia logo along with a houndstooth pattern background. The University and Bryant complain the merchandise is likely to mislead prospective purchasers into believing they have authorized it in some manner. They also believe the term “mafia” is offensive.
The lawsuit also seeks to overturn a ruling by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Trademark Trial and Appeal Board that allowed the Houndstooth Mafia’s trademark application to go forward. The Board found that the houndstooth pattern did not infringe on the university’s merchandise because the university had no trademark right to the pattern. It also found the term “mafia” to be descriptive of Alabama fans and not disparaging to Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant or the university.
See Kent Faulk, University of Alabama Trustees and Paul W. Bryant Jr. in Legal Fight with Houndstooth Mafia, AL.com, Sept. 23, 2013.
Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.