Latest in the Frederick Bouchat and Baltimore Ravens logo saga
Since our last article was published on June 11, 2013,1 there has been some further action in the Bouchat-Baltimore Ravens litigation saga. As a refresher, Frederick Bouchat, an amateur artist from the Baltimore area, submitted on an unsolicited basis his drawing of a winged shield logo to the Baltimore Ravens’ stadium management group in April of 1996.
In his letter to the organization enclosing the proposed logo, he requested only a signed helmet in return for the use of his drawing. From 1996-1998, the Ravens’ used the Flying B Logo, which bore a striking resemblance to Bouchat’s drawing. Over the last 15 years, Bouchat has filed a plethora of unsuccessful copyright infringement lawsuits against the Ravens, the NFL and EA Sports. He has asked for over 10 million in damages for the defendants’ past and present use of his drawing.
As we have learned, Mr. Bouchat is not one to throw in the towel. Our favourite litigant is still finding novel ways to sue the Ravens and the NFL. Most recently, on December 17, 2013, Bouchat joined various NFL entities and the Baltimore Ravens as respondents to Bouchat’s appeal regarding the NFL’s use of the Flying B Logo (see last article for illustration) in three videos, photographs on its websites, and the Baltimore Ravens’ use of the Flying B Logo in exhibits in its club level seating area. The decision of US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit2 affirmed the district court’s findings of November 19, 20123 that these were fair uses of the Flying B Logo. Courts must balance the copyright owner’s right to financially exploit his or her own creations with society’s right to benefit from the creative works of others. See the section titled “Reasoning” below for the criteria that courts use to determine whether a use of someone else’s work is considered a “fair use”.
Bouchat, determined as ever, went on to file a request for the US Supreme Court to hear his appeal from the US Court of Appeals, legally known as a “petition for a writ of certiorari”, which was promptly denied by the US Supreme Court on May 19, 2014.4 The following outlines a summary of the most recent failed appeal by Bouchat in his attempt to be compensated for his shield drawing (see last article for illustration).
Continue reading this article...
Already a member? Sign in
Get access to all of the expert analysis and commentary at LawInSport including articles, webinars, conference videos and podcast transcripts. Find out more here.
- Tags: American Football | Copyright | EA Sports | Intellectual Property | National Football League (NFL) | United States of America (USA)
- A futile quest for compensation – Frederick Bouchat and the Baltimore Ravens logo controversy
- Chicago Cubs Bring Trademark Infringement Suit Over Fake Mascot Billy Cub
- Can athletes claim copyright in their sporting performances?
- Digital and social media rights: Can the fans be forced to take down online goal videos and should they be?
About the Author
Jacob Goldberg is a 2014-2015 articling student at Cassels Brock. He first joined the firm as a summer student in 2012.
Jacob graduated with distinction from the J.D/H.B.A combined program at Western University and the Richard Ivey School of Business. He was awarded the A.B Siskind Scholarship for earning the highest average in his 3L graduating class as well as the Law Society of Upper Canada Prize for academic excellence.