In 10 1/2 years of operating SbB, I’ve never been sued or been faced with any serious legal action. None.
(Texas Tech rep IMG fired legal guns 72 hours after SbB’s BCG revelations)
Over the years I’ve reported on Texas Tech quite a bit - especially as it pertains to Mike Leach, and more recently, Tommy Tuberville and Billy Gillispie. The accuracy of those numerous reports has never been specifically disputed on the record by anyone associated with Texas Tech.
If you’ve read my exhaustive coverage of the unfortunate circumstances of Leach’s departure from the school, you’re well aware of the varying forms of documentation I’ve posted that portray Texas Tech officials - and others associated with the school - in an unflattering manner throughout the former football coach’s legally-challenged ouster.
In addition to Leach and Tuberville, on August 23 I reported details of the regrettable early tenure of newly-hired Texas Tech basketball coach Billy Gillispie. None of the facts of that story have been challenged on the record by anyone associated with Texas Tech.
(TT rep IMG included “Truth” image linked to Leach book in SbB complaint)
On August 26, yesterday, I received an email from the company Texas Tech uses to oversee its licensing: IMG. The email, originated from IMG’s “enforcement” department, claimed that SbB’s use of the Texas Tech logo was, in fact, illegal.
The text of the email is below. [Note: IMG owns and operates ‘Collegiate Licensing Company’, ‘CLC’]
Please find attached a letter from the Collegiate Licensing Company Legal Department. Thanks.
Judy Martin | Enforcement & Compliance Assistant
IMG College and The Collegiate Licensing Company - an IMG Company
VIA CERTIFIED OR ELECTRONIC MAIL
August 26, 2011
Sports by Brooks
Re: Unauthorized Use of Texas Tech University Trademarks
This letter serves to put you on notice of the proprietary interests of Texas Tech University.
The Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) is the authorized licensing representative of Texas Tech University. We represent the University in connection with the licensing, protection and enforcement of its name, logos, colors, slogans, mascot and other proprietary rights (hereinafter “Marks”). The University owns all rights, title and interest in its Marks. Accordingly, no one is authorized to utilize the Marks in connection with its business and its advertising and promotion thereof without the express written permission of CLC and/or the University.
Notwithstanding this, it has come to our attention that you are using the University’s DOUBLE T design Mark in connection with your site. An image from your site is enclosed. Your unauthorized use of this Mark constitutes trademark infringement and unfair competition in that consumers and visitors to your site will erroneously believe that it has been licensed, sponsored or authorized by CLC and/or the University.
In order to remedy this matter, please provide me with written assurances that you have ceased using the Marks of Texas Tech University in connection with your website or otherwise. I will expect to receive your written response by September 9, 2011. I look forward to your cooperation in this matter.
James D. Aronowitz
Associate General Counsel
cc: Texas Tech University Bruce Siegal, Senior Vice President & General Counsel, CLC Nate Klein, Director, Partner Services, CLC
The image included in IMG’s legal missive to me is of the SbB home page - which includes a small graphic at the top-left of the page. An image resembling the “DOUBLE T design Mark” which IMG Counsel refererred to in his email is part of that graphic, which reads “Truth.” That graphic image is then linked to an Amazon.com page where Mike Leach’s book Swing Your Sword - which includes an account of his legally-challenged Texas Tech ouster - can be purchased.
IMG’s attorney used the image attachment to, in part, justify IMG’s claim that my use of an image resembling the Texas Tech logo was, literally, illegal:
Your unauthorized use of this Mark constitutes trademark infringement and unfair competition in that consumers and visitors to your site will erroneously believe that it has been licensed, sponsored or authorized by CLC and/or the University.
One of the reasons I’ve never been sued in over 10 years of operating SbB is I know the law - particularly as it applies to “fair use” and the First Amendment.
For IMG to be correct in its assertation of illegality, it would have to legally establish that I deliberately tried to confuse the visitor to SbB into thinking that Texas Tech and/or IMG endorsed the “Truth”graphic - and possibly the accompanying link to Leach’s book.
Considering my vast, unflattering documentation of the actions of Texas Tech administration officials and athletic department employees over the years on SbB, and that the public is now fully aware of Leach’s book and its unflattering documentation of TT admin activity, is it reasonable for IMG and/or Texas Tech to claim that my use of the Texas Tech logo is illegal because “visitors to your site will erroneously believe that it [Texas Tech logo] has been licensed, sponsored or authorized by [IMG-owned} CLC and/or the University“?
Especially when one considers that a simple Google search of the specific terms “sportsbybrooks” and “Texas Tech” yields a whopping 39,000 results?
As IMG provided no more allegation than that, I’ve since responsed to the company’s attorney requesting a more specific allegation rendering my use of the Texas Tech logo illegal. As it currently stands, in the context of the content posted on SbB over the past 10 years, and the virtually ubiquitous media coverage of the contents of Leach’s book, Texas Tech and/or IMG has no legal right to demand that I “cease using the Marks of Texas Tech University in connection with your website or otherwise.“
In its letter, IMG also claims that no entity, media or otherwise, is allowed to use Texas Tech’s logo without “express written permission of [IMG-owned] CLC and/or the University.”
So is Texas Tech and/or IMG claiming that the thousands of legitimate media outlets and other entities using Texas Tech’s logo every day have received “express written permission of [IMG-owned] CLC and/or the University“? And if anyone reading this has utilized Texas Tech’s logo in any manner whatsoever without the “express written consent” of IMG and/or Texas Tech, they’ve committed a crime?
If ESPN, the HOUSTON CHRONICLE or any other media outlet for that matter reported an unflattering story about Texas Tech, the facts of which were never challenged on the record by anyone associated with the school, and then Texas Tech and/or IMG subsequently claimed to that outlet that its use of Texas Tech’s logo was illegal, what do you think the response from ESPN, the Houston Chronicle or any other media outlet would be?
Is it unreasonable to observe that Texas Tech and/or IMG is resorting to legal threats as an intimidation tactic in response to SbB reports - the veracity of which have never been challenged on the record by anyone associated with Texas Tech - I’ve posted about the school?
If you’re a financial supporter of Texas Tech, I’m particularly interested in your reaction to this matter.
Please email me your thoughts on the legal threat made to SbB by IMG on behalf of Texas Tech at email@example.com.