“If Terrell Suggs can pull off the sports tv moment of 2011, ” yours truly mused last November, “surely there’s an enterprising CSTB reader in the Baltimore area prepared to introduce a ‘Ball So Hard Univ. Athletic Department’ t-shirt.” Well, there was no “if” about it. As the Hollywood Reporter’s Eriq Gardner explains, Ravens linebacker Suggs is engaged in a copyright squabble with t-shirt peddler Brian Brussells, who sought trademark protection for “Ball So Hard” 10 full days before Suggs got around to it. For the record, Gardner reminds us that Sizzle “attended Arizona State”.
Suggs is president and CEO of Team Sizzle Worldwide, an independent film company based in Baltimore, Maryland, which has made five low-budget movies to date. He’s also offering licensed “Ball So Hard” merchandise and has a Facebook page too.
After Team Sizzle registered a trademark, the company’s lawyer sent a cease-and-desist letter to Bussells, who is also selling merchandise at BallSoHardU.com.
The legal notice says that use of the mark is false and misleading, creates confusion, and also violates Suggs’ rights of publicity.
Suggs’ menacing legal maneuvers have caused others selling “Balls So Hard” apparel to back down, but not yet Bussells. What’s going in
Bussells’ favor is that he got to the trademark office first and Suggs might not have been the first to use the mark in commerce.
That honor seems to be enjoyed by Kanye West and Jay-Z, who rapped about how they “ball so hard” on their joint album released last year.
Suggs has acknowledged the inspiration, but he did take the joke further than the hip-hop superstars did by transforming it into a university, no matter BSHU’s low standards of admission.