Old USFL Owners Are Suing To Stop The New USFL
Once again, Spring Football may be cancelled. This time, before it even starts.
The new USFL is set to debut in mid-April, but plans to revitalize spring football may be on hold. Several former team owners and executives from the old USFL are suing Fox over the new league using the same name and moniker as the original United States Football League that existed from 1983 to 1986.
Fox argues that the original USFL abandoned its trademarks after being defunct for nearly 30 years, and the plaintiffs in the lawsuit determined the "false narrative" that the eight teams and league name are derived from the original USFL. The former USFL owners argue that permission was needed, and a complaint was filed Monday in a California federal court seeking to prevent Fox from using the original name, as well as the names and logos of any of the original USFL teams.
Owners and executives of the original USFL teams from the 80's, organized as "Real USFL LLC", have filed a lawsuit claiming that Fox Sports is infringing on their trademarks by using the same league name, team names, and logos. Fox Sports announced the new USFL last year and revealed the first eight teams just a few weeks ago. Those eight teams have the same name and logos as original teams from the 80's.
Obviously, the new USFL is using the names and logos so that people will associate it with the old league. The common person would not think twice whether the two leagues were connected, even though they are not. However, Fox Sports isn't arguing that. The old USFL went defunct over 30 years ago and the new USFL believes those trademarks were abandoned. 30 years is a long time to sit back and still claim ownership of the names and logos. I was pre-law at Florida State, so I'm pretty familiar with trademark law. The points of interest in this case will be the time since the old league folded and what actions these old owners took since then to protect the trademarks. If they haven't renewed or defended the trademarks in that time period, then they shouldn't have a case now.
It seems to me, these old owners are just trying to get paid. A case filed against Fox Sports just over a month before the first game seems to be a money grab. Even if Fox Sports has every right to use these names and logos, which I imagine their lawyers would have determined before they acted, this now becomes an issue of whether they want this lawsuit out there hanging over the league during its first season.
My prediction is this case gets tossed or Fox Sports pays the old guys to go away. Either way, we will have Spring Football.