Sport Marketing and the Law: Will the Real 12th Man Please Stand Up? Texas A&M and Seattle Seahawks Settle Dispute over Right to Identify Fans as ‘12th Man’, pp. 115-117

Matthew T. Brown
David Matthew Zuefle
Paul J. Batista

Developing brand equity has been a focus of sport marketers over the past 15 years (Milne & McDonald, 1999). Mullin, Hardy, and Sutton (2000) stated that brand equity can be built through tangible product extensions, distinct trademarks, history, tradition, festival, and spectacle. In attempting to increase brand equity through a change in the building blocks of brand equity or antecedents of equity (Gladden, Milne & Sutton, 1998; Gladden & Milne, 1999), legal conflict may arise. For example, on August 26, 1993, Ohio University attempted to improve its brand equity when it filed a trademark application for the mark “Ohio.” Officials at Ohio University were concerned with a study that found that there was vast confusion within the national media relating to the identity of the University. Their main concern was to ensure the media realized that Ohio University was not The Ohio State University. More recently, Texas A&M University and the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League (NFL) have disputed the rights to the phrase “12th Man.” Texas A&M University claimed that it owned a common law trademark right to “12th Man” under Texas law and held registered trademarks to the term granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (U.S. Regs. 1,612,053 and 1,948,306). The University further alleged that the Seahawks intentionally infringed upon and diluted the distinctive quality of the term “12th Man.”