Trial starts in suit over logo used by the Ravens

Pigtown man says he is owed money for symbol

July 18, 2002|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

A Pigtown man whose drawing was used as the primary Baltimore Ravens logo for three seasons doesn't deserve any money because fans weren't buying Ravens paraphernalia for his artwork, attorney Bob Raskopf said as a lawsuit against the team went to trial yesterday.

The Ravens and the National Football League hope Raskopf persuades jurors not to award any money to Frederick E. Bouchat, 36, whose 1997 lawsuit asked for $10 million. In 1998, a federal jury ruled that the Ravens organization copied its team logo from Bouchat, an amateur artist who said he submitted his drawings in hopes of getting an autographed helmet.

Now another jury must decide how much in damages, if any, to award Bouchat.

Raskopf said in an opening statement before U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis that the logo wasn't what made the Ravens money. Football fans buy sweat shirts, caps, cups and other items because the items identify the team, he said.

"This is the NFL. We don't sell tickets to the museum with Van Goghs and Rembrandts. ... We sell football," the lawyer said. "It's a very specific market. Do they [fans] care exactly what their team logo looks like when they buy the product? They may wish it looked better, but ... they don't buy it for the artwork."

Bouchat's attorney, Howard J. Schulman, told jurors the Ravens used his client's "Flying B" logo, which depicts a winged shield, because "they believed that's what would sell."

The drawing was used as a symbol that the Ravens - the former Cleveland Browns - were in Baltimore to stay, Schulman said.

The defense called two witnesses, team President and Chief Operating Officer David Modell, and James Connelly, who began working for NFL Properties, the licensing agency for the NFL, in 1982.

Connelly insisted fans don't buy team paraphernalia because of the logos. In fact, he said, teams with high merchandise sales are typically those who have won many Super Bowls, such as the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers.

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