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Fox is set to launch its spring football league, the USFL, in April. But the league faces a roadblock after the owners and executives from the original USFL filed a trademark lawsuit to prevent the network from using the same brand and team names.
According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, a complaint was filed Monday in California by “The Real USFL, LLC.” The complaint describes Fox’s USFL as “an unabashed counterfeit” of the original league that ran from 1983 to 1985. It stated that the network is attempting to use a league name as well as eight team names and 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. They are not,” the complaint says.
Florio stated that the lawsuit “includes claims for trademark infringement, false advertising, and false association.” The lawsuit will determine if the original USFL retained the rights to its trademarks, which is what the network disputes.
Per Florio, Fox felt it didn’t have to negotiate with the original league because it “claimed that the USFL had been defunct for more than 30 years, and that it had abandoned its trademarks.”
“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.
Brown continued, “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.”
Fox’s USFL is expected to kick off April 16. The league held its draft last week and training camp is scheduled to begin March 21. Florio pointed out the possibility that the original USFL files a preliminary injunction that forces the league to delay its launch.