Buffalo, NY (WBEN) The organizer of the 12th Man Thunder website says he's been hit with legal orders from the trademark holder, a Texas university. He claims he's being singled out.
Chuckie Sonntag says Texas A&M University ordered its attorneys to demand Chuckie cease using the term "12th Man," asserting a trademark they won in 1989 for the widely-used phrase meaning "fan support". He says many high schools in the United States incorporate 12th Man language into their booster clubs, including the Altaloma Braves, Dana Hills Dolphins, Seneca Golden Eagles, Washington Panthers, Richwood Knights,
Diamond Bar Brahmas, Fairfield Falcons, and Brentwood Bruins."My experience has proven two things: a handicapped person can accomplish just about anything - and Texas A&M will sue just about anybody," Chuckie said. He is a double amputee, having suffered from polyostotic fibrous dysplasia - Albright's Disease - since childhood and lost his left arm 20 years ago. In March, doctor's amputated his left leg.
At one point, Sonntag claims they gave him 24 hours to hand over all Internet domain names he bought, the T-shirts he printed and many other items. With the help of friends, he changed the name of his group to "BillsFanThunder.com" and stopped infringing on the trademark as fast as he could. "How am I supposed to comply with their demands so quickly? I can't even type that fast - I only have one hand," Chuckie said.
Texas A&M Spokesman Shane Hinkley says trademark infringements happen every day, and with regard to 12th Man Thunder, "This site was active on social media and the Internet and was easy to find," says Hinkley. But he disputes claims the school's singling out Sonntag. "It was one of several brought to our attention in a period of time."
Hinkley denies the school forcing Sonntag to turn everything over in one day. "We reach out to the offending party and try to reach an amicable solution. After several weeks of negotiations, we were forced to file a complaint," explains Hinkley. "We provided him with several weeks of time to make the transfer of the domain name, and have not demanded that change within 24 hours."
Hinkley remains hopeful there can be an amicable solution.