Fight, C--ts, fight!

August 19, 1994

Jim Speros is fighting the good fight, but it is probably a forlorn one. Anywhere but in the mind of a cold-hearted Midwestern judge, the football name Colts belongs to Baltimore.

And that's the problem. The man who owns the name under the law absconded with it to Indianapolis.

Arguments that people would be confused by a National Football League Colts in Indianapolis and a Canadian Football League Colts in Baltimore are so much legalistic mumbo-jumbo. The real threat to the duplicitous NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and his greedy co-conspirator Robert Irsay is the likelihood that fans would buy souvenirs with the logo of an exciting CFL Colts team rather than that of those stumblebums in Indiana.

That's not confusion, it's good judgment -- something Mr. Tagliabue and Mr. Irsay apparently can't tolerate.

But law and good judgment don't always go hand in hand. Baltimoreans will recall the local restaurateur, Sony Florendo, who was forced to capitulate to the massive Sony electronic empire, which argued that its trademark was being infringed because Ms. Florendo used her first name for her restaurant. Though the case never went to trial, Ms. Florendo was cowed into believing the courts thought people couldn't distinguish between a restaurant and a television set. So how could they tell TTC the difference between a skilled, if not quite major league, football team and one that lost 12 games and won only four last season?

Mr. Speros, Baltimore's answer to Bob Irsay, is thinking of appealing an adverse federal court trademark ruling to the Supreme Court. On the face of it, not a promising idea. Still, our files don't disclose how many justices are football fans. Irrelevant? Not necessarily.

Baseball's exemption from the anti-trust laws arises from a Supreme Court decision. It is so flimsy a first-year law student would be flunked for turning in a paper like it. But it was written by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, a distinguished jurist who had been an amateur baseball player, for a court headed by Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former third-baseman at Yale.

Think that can't be the reason for the decision? Well, there can't be any other. Theories about the motive might be relevant today, in a different context, but that's another editorial.

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