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February 04, 2006

Yet Another Super Bowl Post

The trademark dispute over the 12th Man has received a lot of attention (see, for example, here, here, here, here, and here, and those are just the first few Google news results for "12th man trademark"). So, as an Aggie, I felt I should take advantage of my unique opportunity to make our voice heard.

(Heh-heh. That's what Ace gets for letting me guest-blog. And by way of disclaimer, I'd like to state that my views are my own and don't represent Ace's or Texas A&M's.)

For those of you who might not be familiar with the 12th Man, the story is detailed here. In short, in 1922, the Aggies were playing a tense game against the nation's top-ranked team, and were down to eleven uninjured players. The coach called a student, E. King Gill, out of the stands to suit up in the event that another player was injured. Gill did so, and spent the rest of the game by the coach's elbow, ready to play if needed. The Aggies were able to finish (and win) the game without further injuries, and since then, in remembrance of E. King Gill's readiness to support the team and in symbolism of our readiness as Aggies to support one another, the student body stands through the entirety of every football game.

Our use of the concept dates from 1922, and is one of Texas A&M's most meaningful traditions. We also have federally registered trademarks dating from the early '90s.

Legally, no one appears to be questioning our ownership of the trademark. In fact, the Seattle organization, as quoted in several of the articles I linked, is trying to claim that the 12th Man merchandise is being made by Seattle fans, not by any group affiliated with the organization. But, according to this article, the organization has approved at least one official promotion with the title "12th Man."

I'm not blaming Washingtonians for never having heard of the 12th Man. I don't know what traditions Washington's universities have, and wouldn't expect them to know ours. And I certainly don't blame Seattle fans for not researching trademarks prior to making banners or T-shirts for a game.

But I do blame the Seattle organization for repeatedly ignoring our clear legal right to the trademark. This is not the first year we have sent them a cease and desist letter. They have been fully aware of our ownership of the trademark since at least 2004, but have ignored the c&d letters, forcing Texas A&M to take the matter to court.

Also, there are a number of Seattle fans who think our stance is unreasonable. If you are one of these, I invite you to come to Kyle Field, the Home of the 12th Man. Stand (the only time you may sit is while the opposing team's band is performing) in the student section, which faces full west, in the Texas heat. Join us in singing the Aggie War Hymn, and feel the entire stadium rocking. Keep up the noise while the opposing team has the ball, and hear a pin drop while the Aggies have the ball. And marvel at the talent of the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band.

If, after that experience, you can still tell me your little blue flag is at all meaningful, then I'll be very surprised, and certainly dubious of your veracity.

(This post is a revised version, with 100% more flamebait, of a post that can be found at my blog.)


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posted by Mrs Peel at 06:23 PM

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