CFLs to seek name overruling today

August 03, 1994|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,Sun Staff Writer

Baltimore's nameless Canadian Football League team will make what may amount to a last stand for its chosen name today in a Chicago courtroom.

Attorneys for the franchise will try to persuade a panel of U.S. Court of Appeals judges to throw out a court order issued last month by an Indianapolis federal judge.

The injunction, sought by the NFL, temporarily barred the CFL team from calling itself the Baltimore CFL Colts or any similar-sounding name likely to be confused with the NFL's Indianapolis Colts.

A decision is not expected today, but team owner Jim Speros said another loss now could lead him to re-examine his crusade.

"We do not have the financial wherewithal to fight a one- or two-year legal battle with the NFL. Something has to go our way," Speros said.

So far, the record is bleak. The team has failed to have the case heard in Baltimore, to keep the name until its use can be settled at trial or to get the Indianapolis judge, U.S. District Judge Larry J. McKinney, to reconsider his decision.

"If it doesn't go well after this hearing, we'll have to reshuffle our deck and see where we go," Speros said.

Speros' attorneys, in a 20-minute oral argument, will make the case that the Indianapolis judge failed to apply trademark law correctly and that his order should be overturned.

In briefs filed in advance of the hearing, Speros' attorneys repeated their assertion that the NFL abandoned Baltimore and the history and heritage of the Colts that played here until 1983.

"What he failed to recognize and correctly apply was the fundamental fact that 'Indianapolis Colts' is a mark necessarily associated with a football team based in Indianapolis, while 'Baltimore CFL Colts' is properly associated with a team that plays in Baltimore," Speros' attorneys wrote.

They also say that his order could have been more narrow in scope, such as requiring the team to use "Baltimore" and "CFL" in all references to the Colts.

Attorneys for the NFL also will appear in court today. "The carefully constructed injunction issued by Judge McKinney does not affect or prevent the playing of professional football games by the CFL or its franchise in Baltimore, but only the usurpation of the 'Colts' mark as the name of the franchise," they wrote.

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