Fox Sports settles US Football League trademark fight with 80s team owners

Jan 22, 2022; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; FOX Sports signage on display prior to a NFC Divisional playoff football game between the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
  • Fox accused of using 1980s USFL branding without a license
  • Agreement lets Fox use original USFL trademarks

(Reuters) - Fox Sports Inc has settled a lawsuit brought by team owners and executives from the 1980s-era United States Football League over Fox's name and branding for its new league of the same name.

The Real USFL LLC asked the court to dismiss its case against Fox with prejudice on Monday, which means it cannot be refiled. The company's attorneys Nicholas Matich of McKool Smith and Alex Brown of the Lanier Law Firm said Tuesday that the parties' confidential agreement "protects the legacy of the original league and helps Fox carry the torch going forward."

Fox attorney David Bernstein of Debevoise & Plimpton said the network has an exclusive license to USFL trademarks and "looks forward to the second season of USFL spring football next year."

The first USFL ran from 1983 through 1985 and featured prominent players including Steve Young, Reggie White and Herschel Walker. The Real USFL LLC, which licenses the league's trademarks, sued Fox in February for allegedly using the league name, team names and team logos without permission.

The court denied the group's motion to preliminarily block Fox from using the trademarks in April. U.S. District Judge John Walter said that although the group was likely to win on the merits, any harm it suffered could be addressed with money damages. A ban would have a "devastating impact" on Fox's league, the judge found.

Fox's USFL kicked off in April and held its championship game in July.

The case is The Real USFL LLC v. Fox Sports Inc, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, No. 2:22-cv-01350.

For The Real USFL LLC: Nicholas Matich and Kirk Dillman of McKool Smith, Alex Brown and Mark Lanier of the Lanier Law Firm

For Fox: David Bernstein and Michael Schaper of Debevoise & Plimpton, Keith Wesley and Patrick Philbin of Ellis George Cipollone O'Brien Annaguey

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Fox Sports sued by 1980s club owners over new American football league

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at blake.brittain@thomsonreuters.com