Withering under the logic of Texas A&M’s complaint (picture on the left) in the university’s copyright infringement lawsuit over its revered 12th Man slogan, the Seattle Seahawks gave in and entered into a settlement with the Aggies under which the Ags will allow the NFL club to continue using the phrase “12th Man” so long as the Seahawks acknowledge in doing so that the copyright on the slogan belongs to the Aggies.
The 12th man tradition began at Texas A&M in the 1920s, and the Seahawks adopted it in 1984 when they retired the no. 12 because of the help that their noisy fans provided in the old Kingdome Stadium. The Seahawks’ use of the 12th Man slogan became more prominent this past season during a successful playoff run when the volume at Qwest Field was so loud that more false-start penalties were committed there than in any other NFL stadium. As a result, the Aggies demanded that the Seahawks refrain from using the slogan and then filed a lawsuit.
Both sides of the lawsuit attempted to spin the settlement favorably. A&M Chief Marketing Officer & Vice President for Communications Steven B. Moore emailed this message to A&M alums :
“I’m pleased to inform you that, after months of negotiations, the university has reached an amicable agreement with the Seattle Seahawks resolving the controversy regarding the use of Texas A&M’s 12th Man trademark. Under the agreement, the university has granted the NFL team a license to use the 12th Man trademark in a seven-state area in the northwest that encompasses the current primary broadcast area of the Seahawks. As is the case of all licensees, the Seattle Seahawks will pay the university a licensing fee and will state publicly that Texas A&M owns the 12th Man trademark each time it is used.”
On the other hand, Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke said:
“You won’t see any change. In certain places we will acknowledge their license and trademark. [. . .] Once they got into it, they realized it was the real deal here. It wasn’t a one-time marketing slogan . . . there was something real and authentic here.”
Meanwhile, a friend of mine — a fervent Aggie booster — emailed me with this reaction to the settlement, which is apparently shared by a number of Aggie faithful:
“The Ags gave up, just like [Head Coach Dennis] Franchione‘s defense.”