Two Tarrant County Hockey Clubs are Battling for the Right to Be Called the Brahmas [Updated]
(This post has been updated to include responses from the Lone Star Brahmas.) The Texas Brahmas, Fort Worth's 16-year-old minor league hockey team, no longer exists, at least not in any meaningful sense. Over the summer, the Central Hockey League announced that the club would not play in the 2013-14 season and declared its entire roster unrestricted free agents while it searched for a "more suitable venue" than the 2,500-seat Nytex Sports Center in North Richland Hills.
It was probably foolish for the CHL to think it could keep the Hindu creation god down for long. The next month brought news of the the Brahmas' resurrection, and right inside the Nytex Sports Center.
The thing is, these aren't the same Brahmas. They're the Texas Tornado and they've spent the past decade in Frisco playing in the North American Hockey League. They were only imported to Tarrant County and renamed after the Texas Brahmas canceled their season.
The Texas Brahmas -- or, more accurately, the corporate shell that exists in the team's place -- are not happy with this development. On Tuesday the team and the CHL filed a federal trademark infringement lawsuit claiming the Lone Star Brahmas are illegally profiting off the team's name and raging-bull logo.
Their case seems to be pretty open-and-shut. Here are some examples of the alleged infringement presented by the Texas Brahmas in court filings, with their trademarks on the left, the Lone Star Brahmas' material on the right:
Chad Siewert, a spokesman for the Lone Star Brahmas, says the above table is bull.
"We don't use any of the logos listed in the lawsuit that they allege we are using," he writes in an email. Their official logo is the one with the bull snapping the hockey stick in his mouth. "It is Gray, we don't want any confusion with the old dead purple bull."
A little bit of background helps shed some light on how this dispute came about.
The Texas Tornado were purchased and renamed over the summer by Frank and Salvatore Trazzera, who also happen to own the Nytex Sports Centre, the place that CHL declared unsuitable to host Texas Brahmas games.
Further complicating the picture is the fact that the Trazerras once
ran owned the Texas Brahmas, running the club from 2006 to 2009. They still run the Texas Brahmas' junior hockey league. In both cases, they were authorized to use the Brahmas name and logo.
Siewert offers some additional context.
The brahmas sat dormant for the 2006-2007 season. The city of Fort Worth wanted the NBA D League in the convention Center instead of the brahmas. So the Brahmas searched for a new home. The Trazzerras bought the vacant Blue Line Ice Center, renovated it, and let the Brahmas play in this building rent free for five years. Had the Trazzerras not come to the rescue of the abandoned ice center and dying team, this saga would have ended in 2006. The Texas brahmas LP sold the team in 2012 to a group of Fort Worth "Bidness" men fronted by Mike Atkinson, Mike Levitz (CEO of Ashley Furniture), Glen Piquet and Neil Leibman (minority owners of the Texas Rangers). After about 7 months of epic failure as owners, the LLC group defaulted control back to the Texas Brahmas LP
In their suit, the Texas Brahmas and CHL are asking a judge to stop the Trazerras from using their trademarks and the Brahmas name. They also demand a jury trial, at which they will ask for as much as $300,000 in damages.
Siewert says they won't get it.
"Lone Star brahmas are not trying to fool people into thinking they are the Fort Worth or Texas brahmas in any way shape or form," he writes, adding, "This is an attempt to obtain an injunction to prevent us from using the word Brahmas."