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Judges Rule Against the Ravens Over Logo Dispute

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Yesterday in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a three-judge panel reversed a previous judge’s ruling that “films depicting the “Flying B” logo on Ravens uniforms and on the football field are essentially historical and are a “fair use” under copyright law.” [NFL.com]

The “Flying B” logo (as seen on the right) was modeled after an original drawing by artist Frederick Bouchat. This logo was used by the Baltimore Ravens for their first 3 seasons from 1996 – 1998. Bouchat has claimed that the Ravens took his design without compensation, essentially stealing it from him.

Bouchat wanted a whopping $10 million in award damages, but the Ravens refused to pay. Personally, I think Bouchat should get some compensation, but $10 million? Really? The logo isn’t even that great; I love our new “B” branded raven bird.

The Ravens didn’t lose completely though. The court allowed the team to display the logo within their headquarters because it was not considered “commercial use.” The court said:

[Using the logo in a team history display in the lobby of their Owings Mills headquarters] is a noncommercial use of the logo akin to a museum exhibit that is permissible under trademark law.

Still, it was ultimately a win for Bouchat. Commercial use of this logo is now prohibited. That means even the NFL is restricted from showing the logo in highlight reels, game replays, or any other media.

There is no word yet on whether or not the Ravens will appeal this decision to the full appeals court or the U.S. Supreme Court.