More Papers Pick Up the Seminole Trademark Brouhaha

I learned a valuable media lesson this week about what reporters want to hear, and what they need to spice up their stories. It turns out that the quote I gave the Tampa Tribune last week — “As a lawyer, I would have a field day if I was representing the school board on that,” because “It’s really hard to make a claim when you have been working side by side for 30 or 50 years.” — is the one the reporters liked the most. This quote was since picked up and republished by a sports columnist for the News Sun, and even nationally by a USA Today blogger.

Of the three quotes chosen by reporters last week, this is one that I wish I had phrased a little differently. But as the saying goes, all press is good press, right?

Media Blitz

Today my phone rang off the hook with reporters looking for an expert on intellectual property law to comment on the issues surrounding the cease and desist letter received by Bradenton Southeast High School, which has competed in high school sports under the name Seminoles for over 30 years. It seems the company that does all of the official licensing of sports memorabilia for many colleges took offense to the Bradenton Southeast Seminoles, on behalf of the much more famous FSU Seminoles.

Now, it isn’t the meanest cease and desist letter I’ve ever seen. And the law does incentivize trademark owners to police their marks or risk losing them. But seriously? It takes a much lighter touch if you are going to c&d a high school that has been using the names and logos for 30 years or more — particularly if you have recruited football players from that high school and sent Bobby Bowden on recruiting trips there. I was quoted explaining the doctrine of acquiescence in the St. Petersburg Times Seminole Watch blog, moderately explained both sides of the story to the Sarasota Herald Tribune (at page 4), and sounding a bit more feisty in the online version of the Tampa Tribune. With perhaps more to come!

Update: Two more papers picked up my quotes.