The Summer of Law has worked its way to Baltimore.
The man who claimed he designed the original Ravens logo, which the franchise stopped using after his first lawsuit hit paydirt with a federal jury, has since launched a trio of actions targeting the presence of the defunct design in stadium displays, television presentations, the Internet, and video games.
As explained by Lorraine Mirabella of the Baltimore Sun, Frederick E. Bouchat filed last week a fresh lawsuit based on photos displaying the shield design the team used from 1996 through 1998.
In 1996, Bouchat faxed the original design to the Maryland Stadium Authority, and he claimed in his original lawsuit that the team stole its logo from Bouchat’s design. The team claimed it didn’t know about Bouchat’s drawing, appealing the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Although Bouchat eventually won, he never received a dime in damages from the initial case.
“He was an individual who was forgotten and shunned in the rush to market the team,” attorney Howard J. Schulman told the Sun. “He’s never gotten the appropriate credit, either personally or commercially. He’s created something that was of value in an intellectual property sense.”
In a separate lawsuit filed in 2008, a federal judge ordered last November that the league and the Ravens should compensate Bouchat for the presence of the logo in highlight films marketed by the NFL. The amount owed hasn’t been determined.
According to Schulman, the old logo continues to appear at M&T Bank Stadium, via nine large photos showing former players wearing it. The pending legal actions also target the presence of the logo on NFL Network, on NFL.com, and in the Madden video games, via “throwback” uniforms.
Bouchat’s ownership of the logo already has been determined by a court of law. If the Ravens and the NFL plan to keep using it, Bouchat needs to be compensated. If someone brazenly were using in multiple contexts and settings a logo owned by the Ravens and/or the NFL, Goliath would be sitting on David’s head.
Our guess? The league and the Ravens keep using the logo because they disagree with the outcome of the original lawsuit, and possibly because they believe they’re operating on house money because they never had to pay Bouchat the first time around. Hopefully, they’ll have to pay him, eventually.
Whether they like it or not, Bouchat owns that design. They can’t use it without compensating him for it.
Maybe they’ll compensate him for it if enough fans realize how the Ravens have been treating for the last 16 years a guy who was, basically, a fan with an idea that the Ravens regarded as good enough to steal.