Everyone in Las Vegas has heard of Shaquille O’Neal. The long-time basketball player and former Phoenix Sun has recently had to deal with an off-the-court challenge, a trademark infringement lawsuit. O’Neal recently won his lawsuit against an online sports apparel and collectible store.
The lawsuit, filed by O’Neal’s licensing company, went after Fan Logo Inc. for creating an online store dubbed “Shaqtus Orange Clothing Co.”. In this business dispute, O’Neal’s camp argued that Fan Logo was trying to profit from O’Neal’s personal brand. Ultimately, O’Neal argued that since he was known as “The Big Shaqtus” when he played for the Phoenix Suns, there was a trademark infringement.
A Las Vegas judge agreed and ordered Fan Logo to stop using the Shaqtus mark and their Shaqtus websites.
Whenever a company or self-made person, such as O’Neal, discovers his or her name or trademark being used to profit another company, there is a problem. O’Neal was simply looking to protect his business interests after making himself a household name. When another company or person uses one of his trademarks without permission, it has the potential to draw business away from his company. In order to protect trademarks and general business interests, it is important to work with a lawyer with a strong business background.
The judge ultimately decided that Fan Logo infringed on O’Neal’s trademark because there was a likelihood of confusion as to who owned and produced Shaqtus clothing. The judge also noted that Fan Logo sold orange basketball jerseys that were similar to the jerseys O’Neal wore while playing for the Phoenix Suns. The jerseys clearly said “Phoenix Shaqtus” and also used O’Neal’s jersey number, 32.
Source: Vegas Inc, “Shaquille O’Neal wins court victory in trademark dispute,” Steve Green, Oct. 25, 2011