ILNews

Larry Bird sues over use of name

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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Former college and NBA basketball star and current president of basketball operations of the Indiana Pacers Larry Bird has filed a trademark infringement suit in federal court against the owners of his childhood home.

Bird filed the suit, Larry Bird v. Legend of French Lick LLC, No. 4:08-CV-0070-DFH-WGH, in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, New Albany Division Monday against Georgianna Lincoln and Christopher Cooke, who purchased Bird's childhood home in French Lick from the Larry Joe Bird Revocable Living Trust.

The two marketed the property as a bed and breakfast, promoting the house as, "Legend of French Lick, the Former Home of Larry Bird Resort." The two also attempted to purchase memorabilia from Bird and wanted to use his name to identify the house; those requests were denied.

The lawsuit seeks to stop Lincoln and Cooke's unauthorized use of Bird's name in violation of federal trademark laws and state publicity laws. Bird has registered his name as a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, according to the suit. The suit also seeks damages for the improper use of his name and for the impoundment and turnover of certain properties the defendants used improperly.

The suit alleges that Bird was unaware that Lincoln and Cooke planned on marketing the property as a bed and breakfast by using his name and the two lied when they said they were given oral permission to use the Bird's name in association with the property.

Six counts were filed in the federal suit - federal trademark infringement, federal trademark dilution, violation of Indiana's rights of publicity statute, violation of Bird's right to privacy, state law trademark infringement, and request for preliminary and permanent injunctive relief and impoundment. Bird demands a trial by jury of all the issues.
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