University of Ala. Bd of Trustees v. New Life, Inc, No. 09-16412 (11th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
This case arose when the University told Daniel A. Moore, an artist who painted famous football scenes involving the University since 1979, that he would need permission to depict the University's uniforms because they were trademarks. Moore contended that he did not need permission because the uniforms were being used realistically to portray historic events. The parties could not reach a resolution and the University subsequently sued Moore for breach of contract, trademark infringement, and unfair competition. The court held that, as evidenced by the parties' course of conduct, Moore's depiction of the University's uniforms in his unlicensed paintings, prints, and calendars was not prohibited by the prior licensing agreements. Additionally, the paintings, prints, and calendars did not violate the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125(a), because these artistically expressive objects were protected by the First Amendment. Accordingly, the court affirmed the grant of summary judgment by the district court with respect to the paintings and prints, and reversed with respect to the prints as replicated on calendars. With respect to the licensing agreements' coverage of the mugs and other "mundane products," the court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment because disputed issues of fact remained. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded.