Man suing Ravens over team logo Pigtown resident seeks $10 million

October 07, 1998|By Michael James | Michael James,SUN STAFF

The $10 million question posed in Baltimore's federal court: Who designed the Ravens football team logo?

A Pigtown amateur artist claims he did and is suing the Ravens and NFL Properties, the football league's marketing arm, saying they stole his sketches. The copyright infringement trial began yesterday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

"This is a very, very important case because [the Ravens' and NFL Properties'] reputations are at stake," said George Beall, an attorney for the defendants.

"They've been accused of copying. They've been accused of stealing."

Frederick E. Bouchat, 32, is asking the jury to award him $10 million and any profits the Ravens earn from the logo, which he says he designed in his spare time. But officials with the Ravens and NFL Properties say that they never saw Bouchat's alleged sketches and that the winged logo was made by a team of design artists in New York.

"I want to say with as much force as I can muster: Nobody copied Mr. Bouchat's work," Beall told the jury.

Bouchat works as a security guard at a state office building in downtown Baltimore. Bouchat's attorney, Howard J. Schulman, said 17 witnesses are expected to testify that Bouchat showed them the drawing before the Ravens revealed a logo.

In April 1996, Bouchat sent his sketches by fax to Maryland Stadium Authority Chairman John A. Moag Jr., Schulman said. Bouchat had asked for nothing more in return than signed Ravens memorabilia, according to the lawsuit. But after sending the sketches by fax, he never heard from Moag or the Ravens, Schulman said.

About two months later, the Ravens unveiled the logo -- and Bouchat recognized it as his own, Schulman said.

"The two works, one by NFL Properties and the other by him, could not have been done independently of each other," Schulman said. "[Bouchat] had it first."

The trial is expected to last at least two weeks.

Pub Date: 10/07/98

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