New Life Art Decision Breathes New Life Into Artist’s First Amendment Rights, pp. 48-50

John Grady

In November 2009, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama issued a ruling on motions for summary judgment and declaratory judgment in the long dormant case of the University of Alabama Board of Trustees v. New Life Art (2009). The highly publicized lawsuit, initially filed in 2005, pitted sports artist Daniel Moore against his alma mater, the University of Alabama (Grady, 2005). The case involves Moore’s art prints depicting Crimson Tide football players playing against rival teams. The art work features the player uniforms as well as the well-recognized school colors of the University of Alabama. The university asserted trademark protection of the uniforms and colors and insisted Moore needed a license to use these unregistered trademarks in the crimson and white color scheme and team uniforms in his art work. Moore defended against these claims by arguing that he had a First Amendment right of free expression to include these aspects in his depictions of Alabama football and, therefore, argued that he did not need a license from the university.