Court to hear Ravens' appeal of logo ruling

Jury had found that team copied design for helmet


Add a date before the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond to the Baltimore Ravens' fall schedule.

The appellate court agreed last week to hear the Ravens' appeal of a Baltimore jury's decision that the football team copied its first helmet logo from a design by an amateur artist.

George Beall, the attorney for the Ravens, said he expects the Court of Appeals to hear oral arguments in the case in October or November. Written legal briefs on behalf of the Ravens and Frederick E. Bouchat, the artist and security guard who claims to have designed the "flying B" shield that the players wore on their helmets, are due to be filed late next month.

Even if the court rules in the team's favor, Beall said he doubted the team would abandon the logo featuring a bird's head that the team began using last season after the November 1998 federal court decision in favor of Bouchat, who lives in Southwest Baltimore.

"It's highly unlikely that the old logo would be revived," Beall said. "Now that the change is made, it makes sense to remain with the replacement logo, regardless of the outcome of the appeal."

In its appeal, the Ravens contend that U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis erred in not dismissing Bouchat's claim before it went to the jury. The Ravens also contend that the jury verdict was wrong and should have been set aside by Garbis.

The appellate court could rule in favor of the Ravens on the first point, which would mean the end of the case; agree with the team on the second point and order a new trial; or uphold the jury's finding.

Beall said he was heartened by the appellate court's decision to hear an appeal before a second phase of the case -- a separate jury trial to determine the amount of damages to which Bouchat is entitled -- is heard.

"I'm taking this as a positive sign," he said. "Inferentially, it seems the Court of Appeals has perceived significant legal issues."

But Bouchat's attorney, Howard J. Schulman, said he was confident about his case: "I think the 4th Circuit will remove all doubts about the jury's verdict."

Pub Date: 5/21/99

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