Speros calls the play: CFL team sues the NFL

March 03, 1994|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Sun Staff Writer

In a legal maneuver aimed at securing the right to use Baltimore Colts and Baltimore CFL Colts, Jim Speros is taking the NFL to court.

Attorneys for Baltimore's Canadian Football League expansion team have asked the U.S. District Court in Maryland for a declaratory judgment against the NFL in a dispute over trademark rights to Baltimore Colts.

Speros filed for those rights Jan. 27, more than a year after NFL Properties allowed the registration for Baltimore Colts to lapse.

It is the NFL's position that the Colts name still belongs to Properties, which threatened Speros last month with legal action if he used the name.

Bob Bodansky, from the Washington law firm of Feldman, Bodansky & Rubin, filed for the declaratory judgment Tuesday at approximately the same time Speros was announcing the choice of Baltimore CFL Colts for his new team.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league received the papers yesterday.

"We're in court because they took us to court," Aiello said. "Our attorneys are looking at it, and are in the process of formulating some sort of response."

Speros, attending CFL meetings in Sacramento, Calif., yesterday, was unavailable for comment.

The NFL has 60 days to respond to the complaint, which likely will be heard in Baltimore. A judgment could take as long as 18 months, Bodansky said.

"We filed the declaratory judgment action because it was clear to us that if we used Colts, a suit would follow," Bodansky said. "Yes, it's ad

versarial. But it's not confrontational. We're not looking for damages, we're not looking to punish anyone. This is what we believe, and why we believe it.

"We felt in terms of getting it resolved as expeditiously as possible, as non-confrontational as possible, this was the thing to do."

Bodansky said he still is hopeful the NFL agrees there is no confusion between the Indianapolis Colts, who moved from Baltimore 10 years ago this month, and the Baltimore CFL Colts.

He said he registered two different versions of the Baltimore CFL Colts trademark with the U.S. Trademark Office. One simply reads Baltimore CFL Colts, and the other has the initials CFL inside a maple leaf inside a helmet, and the helmet is positioned between the words Baltimore and Colts.

"We don't feel, particularly with the clear designation of CFL on all merchandising, that there could be any confusion between those," he said. "When you see Baltimore vs. Toronto, Baltimore vs. Las Vegas, the sports-knowledgeable public will not be confused."

Furthermore, Bodansky said the Indianapolis Colts and NFL Properties abandoned the trademark rights to Baltimore Colts when they failed to renew the registration in December 1992.

CFL COLTS TICKETS

TicketMaster is taking phone-charge reservations for regular-season tickets and club seats for the Baltimore CFL Colts.

Call (410) 481-SEAT (Baltimore) or (202) 432-SEAT (Washington). For more information, contact Mike Gathagan at the Leffler Agency at (410) 235-5661.

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