The USFL will return in April. Unless it doesn’t.
The owners and executives of the original USFL have sued to block Fox from launching a league that uses the brand and team names of the spring league that was founded in 1983.
In a complaint filed Monday in a California federal court, an entity known as “The Real USFL, LLC” seeks an order preventing Fox from using the USFL name and the names and logos of any of the 18 teams that played in the original USFL.
The plaintiff alleges that Fox’s USFL “is an unabashed counterfeit,” and that Fox has taken the league’s name, eight team names, and eight team logos “to which it has no right.”
“It has traded on the false narrative that Fox’s League and USFL teams are the offspring of the original,” the complaint contends at paragraph 4. “They are not.”
The original USFL raised its concerns publicly last year, after Fox announced plans to bring back the USFL. Negotiations occurred, but Fox allegedly made it clear that it “had no intention of discussing the matter further.” Eventually, Fox claimed that the USFL had been defunct for more than 30 years, and that it had abandoned its trademarks.
The lawsuit includes claims for trademark infringement, false advertising, and false association. Ultimately, the case boils down to whether the original USFL retained the rights to the league name and the team names and logos. If the legal system concludes that it does, Fox has a very real problem.
“Fox could have easily started its own league with new teams, but instead chose to take the goodwill and nostalgia of the original league without the permission of the people who actually created it,” attorney Alex Brown said in a press release. “Fox can’t dispute that the ‘Real USFL’ marks are recognizable and valued because they’re using them and purposefully confusing its league with the original. Rather than do the right thing, Fox has chosen to try and bully the prior owners into submission. That’s not going to happen.”
What’s likely going to happen is that the original USFL will try to get a preliminary injunction preventing the league from launching in April with the original USFL league and team names and logos.