Frederick Bouchat drew this logo in 1995.
All Frederick E. Bouchat says he wanted years ago was recognition for his idea for the Ravens team logo.
Since the South Baltimore resident first sketched a flying raven clutching a shield with a "B" and faxed it to the Maryland Stadium Authority 16 years ago, he has won a court case crediting him with creating the Baltimore Ravens' first logo. But he has never been compensated.
Bouchat's long-running dispute with the Ravens took a new turn last week when he accused the franchise of another copyright infringement, this time because it appears in photos displayed at M&T Bank Stadium. The security guard and amateur artist also is challenging the National Football League's use of the old logo, saying in two pending lawsuits that he's getting no credit for a design that has resurfaced on television, on the Internet and in popular video games.
The cases, which accuse the Ravens and NFL of continuing to profit from Bouchat's design, will likely revolve around a novel legal question — whether the design has become a piece of history and therefore can be used freely. The Ravens and NFL deny they are profiting from using the logo.
Bouchat's attorney, Howard J. Schulman, characterizes the situation as a David and Goliath fight that has spanned years. Bouchat, who declined through his attorney to be interviewed, has long maintained the "Flying B," logo used from 1996 through 1998 was stolen from a drawing he created months before the team announced its name and logo.
A federal jury ruled in Bouchat's favor in 1998, and the Ravens adopted a new logo the next season. The team said it was unaware of the Bouchat artwork, credited NFL Properties with the design and appealed the ruing all the way to the Supreme Court, which declined to take the case.
In that case, Bouchat asked for $10 million in compensation, but none was awarded. Then last November, a federal judge ordered the NFL and the Ravens to compensate Bouchat for the logo's appearance in highlight films sold by the NFL, a result of a lawsuit Bouchat filed in 2008. The compensation has not yet been determined.
"He was an individual who was forgotten and shunned in the rush to market the team," Schulman said. "He's never gotten the appropriate credit, either personally or commercially. He's created something that was of value in an intellectual property sense."
And the Ravens continue to use the Bouchat logo, Schulman said. At M&T Bank Stadium, nine large photographs prominently show the Bouchat logo, according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court in Baltimore. The photos show former players such as Vinny Testaverde, Jonathan Ogden and Jermaine Lewis sporting the old logo.
The lawsuit argues Bouchat has exclusive rights under copyright laws to reproduce, publish or display his work and that "any commercial reproduction or display of the infringing logo" is in violation.
The Ravens declined to discuss the cases.
"While we are aware of the matter, we will withhold comment at this time, as it is now in litigation," Patrick Gleason, a Ravens spokesman, said in an email.
In two separate lawsuits, Bouchat accuses various NFL entities of copyright infringement for showing the former logo on an NFL television channel, on an NFL website and in Madden NFL video games. Nfl.com showed the logo in online film segments called "Top Ten Draft Classes: 1996 Baltimore Ravens." Members of the public viewed the work more than 66,000 times since 2007, the lawsuit says. The segment also was shown on the NFL network, the complaint says.
An NFL spokesman, Brian McCarthy, declined to comment on the federal lawsuits, filed in May and last October in Baltimore.
A defendant in one of the lawsuits, Redwood City, Calif.-based video game maker Electronic Arts Inc., used the Bouchat-copyrighted logo on retro uniforms in its games, such as Madden NFL 11 for the Sony PlayStation 3 game console, the lawsuit alleges. The logo appears as part of an option that lets players create historically accurate virtual football teams.
Gerard P. Martin, a Baltimore-based attorney for Electronic Arts, said the extent of the former logo's appearance in the video games has yet to be determined. He said the court will look at whether "the primary motive (is) to make money on it, or is it an historical fact." He contends that historical use is permitted, and the company argues it didn't profit from the use of the Flying B logo.
"There might have been some limited use, and more likely than not it was inadvertent," he said.
Copyright infringement cases involve two issues — the copyright breach and the resulting damages, said Ned T. Himmelrich, head of the intellectual property and technology section for Gordon Feinblatt LLC in Baltimore.