Original USFL files motion for preliminary injunction to block Fox’s league from using league and team names

Houston Gamblers vs  Los Angeles Express
Getty Images

The USFL is due to return in April. Those who contend to be the owners of the trademarks associated with the original USFL are trying to stop that from happening.

A motion for preliminary injunction has been filed in California federal court. A hearing will be held on March 16.

The goal of the motion is to persuade the court to issue an order preventing Fox from using the USFL name or the names and logos of the eight teams while the case proceeds. It’s an aggressive but not uncommon move. Basically, the plaintiff hopes to persuade the presiding judge that the chances of winning are so strong, and the interests at play so important, that the relief ultimately sought should be granted while the underlying legal questions are addressed.

The USFL is due to return in mid-April. A successful motion wouldn’t directly block the season. However, if prevented from using the USFL name and, more importantly, the names and logos of the eight teams that will play all regular-season games in Birmingham, Fox would have to scramble to come up with new names, logos, and uniforms.

The judge eventually will consider four primary factors: (1) likelihood of success on the merits; (2) whether the injury suffered by the alleged owners of the USFL names and trademarks is “irreparable” (in other words, whether it can’t properly be compensated by a financial award later); (3) the balancing of the equities and hardships of the parties if an order is or isn’t granted; and (4) the public interest.

The paperwork supporting the motion reiterates the allegation that the Fox-owned USFL “is a counterfeit,” and that the use of the league and team names and logos deceives the public into believing that it’s the original USFL, which launched in 1983.

Obviously, Fox sees the value in dusting off the USFL brand and the exact names (including cities) of eight teams from the ’80s-era USFL, even if all teams will be playing in Alabama. The real question is whether the plaintiff truly owns the names and trademarks and, for the purposes of the motion for preliminary injunction, whether the only way to rectify an infringement on those rights is to prevent it now, in lieu of issuing an award of damages to be paid later.

Earlier this week, lawyers representing the new USFL called the lawsuit “completely without merit” and “utterly frivolous,” blaming that the new USFL registered all relevant intellectual property rights in 2011. Fox will now have a chance to prove that in court. The first opportunity comes in 13 days.

7 responses to “Original USFL files motion for preliminary injunction to block Fox’s league from using league and team names

  1. Based on their previous lawsuit, if the old USFL wins this time damages could reach as high as $5.

  2. Money grab at the 11th hour is all this is. They had all year to file this suit if they believed it to be valid, but they wait until the last minute to put others backs in the corner.

    Crooked as heck. At least it doesn’t hold any water. Hopefully Fox gives them a big fat bill for the legal fees.

  3. I am a little surprised that there is no connection between the 1983 USFL and this modern version but see why they did it. It immediately got my attention seeing those original USFL names and uniforms.

  4. If Fox loses it’s not a big deal. It’s not hard to simply tweak a logo or color scheme or league name.

    A logo can have a simple extra line in it or something, a copyrighted color can be adjusted in miniscule fashion and a name copyright is meaningless bc people will call a team what ever they want. For example if the Stars have that name copyrighted, the new USFL can just copyright “Philadelphia Stars”, and simply continue to call them the Stars. If the new league can’t use “USFL” as copyrighted, they can copyright “US Football League” as the official name and simply continue to verbally call it USFL. Things like that.

  5. If the original USFL doesn’t have the trademarks there is no lawsuit. If the new USFL has the trademarks, why would they have moved forward with the league?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.