Adam Liptak had a front page story in yesterday's New York Times about a trademark lawsuit brought by the University of Alabama against artist Daniel Moore, who does paintings of Alabama football scenes which sell for as much as $65,000. The university is seeking to prevent him from, among other things, using its “famous crimson and white color scheme.”
The story does a nice job of laying out the relevant caselaw:
"At one end of the legal spectrum, a federal judge in Louisiana had no difficulty in July in enjoining a company that sold shirts bearing the school colors and initials of four football powerhouses. At the other, the federal appeals court in Cincinnati in 2003 rejected an effort by the golfer Tiger Woods to stop an artist named Rick Rush from using Mr. Woods’s image in a painting commemorating his victory at the 1997 Masters in Augusta, Ga. ... In the middle of the spectrum is a 2001 decision of the California Supreme Court. It expressed great solicitude for the rights of artists under the First Amendment. But it ruled against an artist who had created a simple charcoal drawing of the Three Stooges and sold it on T-shirts."
The Tiger Woods decision is here. The Three Stooges decision is here. You can see examples of Moore's work here and you can listen to him being interviewed about the case on NPR here. Alabama dropped to 6-5 on the season with a 28-14 loss to LSU on Saturday.
Clemson University economics professor Skip Sauer says "attempting to convert this painter's contribution into a revenue stream is a churlish (he can't use 'the famous crimson and white color scheme'???) and short-sighted move by the university's lawyers, regardless of where the case sits on the edge of trademark law."
I make Moore a two-touchdown favorite to win.