The Aggies don’t mess around. Texas A&M has sued the Indianapolis Colts for infringing on their trademark of the “12th Man.”

At a board of regents meeting Thursday, school chancellor John Sharp revealed that Texas A&M filed suit in district court in Houston on Thursday after it says repeated attempts to stop the Colts from using its registered trademarks were unsuccessful.

The suit alleges that the school first contacted the Colts about using the phrase inside its stadium in 2006 and sent a cease and desist letter, which it says fell on deaf ears.

The Colts retired the “12th Man” in their ring of honor in 2008, and according to the suit, were again warned by A&M that the team was infringing on a mark that the school owned.

The tipping point came in July, when in an email advertisement to sell tickets, the Colts encouraged fans to “Join The 12th Man.” Texas A&M officials discovered the infringement when a person in College Station, Texas, where A&M is based, received the email.

According to the lawsuit, the Colts have used “12th Man” to sell merchandise and have been honoring fans with a “12th Man award” during games in which the honoree receives a Colts jersey with “12th” on the front.

“Texas A&M University is the Home of the 12th Man which has brought our fan base national renown,” said school president Michael K. Young in a statement. “We would prefer not to file lawsuits to protect our trademarks. However, when our intellectual property, especially the 12th Man mark which is so important to our students and former students, is used without our permission after repeated attempts to engage on the matter, we are left with no choice.”

When reached for comment Thursday afternoon, Colts spokesman Avis Roper said it was the first the team had heard about the legal action.

The Seahawks give up $5,000 a year in order to to use the phrase, but can’t profit off of merchandise.

By Glenn Erby


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