Football Star Sues to Get Rights to Own Nickname

A District Court in Texas has been asked to decide whether an athlete has the exclusive right to his own nicknames. NFL quarterback Vince Young has sued three Texas men claiming that they trademarked the two nicknames most closely associated with him, namely "VY" and "INVINCEABLE", and are damaging his ability to enter into endorsement agreements. Young is quarterback for the Tennessee Titans who was a finalist for the coveted Heisman Trophy in 2005 and was NFL offensive rookie of the year in 2006. He went to college at the University of Texas, and led them to back-to-back Rose Bowls in 2005-06, including a BCS National Championship in 2006. According to the allegations in the complaint that Young filed in the Southern District of Texas on December 12th, one day after Young electrified football fans with his performance in the 2006 championship games, the defendants filed a trademark and intent to use applications to license Young's nicknames in video games and on clothing. Although VY and INVINCEABLE are indeed associated with Mr. Young, he is hardly the only person named Vince or with the initials VY. Young says he tried to reach a settlement with the three defendants, one of whom is former major league baseball player Enos Cabell, but when negotiations broke down, he filed suit under the Lanham Act. The Defendants "had no bona fide intent to use the marks VY and INVINCEABLE in commerce," states the lawsuit. " [They] knew the connection between VY and the INVINCEABLE marks when [they] filed the intent to use applications. Thus [Defendants] filed the marks with the intention of extracting money for licensing the marks back to [Young]." The lawsuit seeks cancellation of the trademark applications, damages and attorney's fees.

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