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Even though a jury found that the National Football League’s Baltimore Ravens infringed on a team logo designed by security guard and amateur artist Frederick Bouchat, he will see no money from the helmets, hats or beer mugs sporting his creation. On Oct. 8, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that the trial court did not err when it refused to let the jury consider revenue from the sale of certain items bearing Bouchat’s logo, or when it gave the jury its charge. Bouchat v. Baltimore Ravens Football Club Inc., No. 02-1999. After the NFL’s original Cleveland Browns announced in 1995 that they were moving to Baltimore, Bouchat designed a winged shield logo for the team now bearing the Edgar Allan Poe-inspired name “Ravens.” He submitted the unsolicited design to the Maryland Stadium Authority, which, allegedly, forwarded it to National Football League Properties Inc. (NFLP), asking only for a letter of recognition and an autographed helmet in exchange. When the Ravens later unveiled their “Flying B” logo, Bouchat recognized it as his design. He sued the team and the NFLP, alleging copyright infringement. In 1998, a federal jury found that Bouchat had proven infringement. The defendants appealed, but the 4th Circuit affirmed. In an ensuing 2002 trial on damages, a jury found that the team and the NFLP had shown that merchandise revenues were attributable to factors other than the infringement and denied Bouchat any monetary recovery. Bouchat had not sought actual damages and was not entitled to statutory damages because he had not registered the copyright. Bouchat appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in refusing to allow the jury to consider additional sources of revenue from products bearing the logo. Nevertheless, the 4th Circuit held that while 17 U.S.C. 504(b) created a presumption that merchandise revenues were derived from the infringement, the trial court did not err in excluding certain evidence from the jury’s consideration. Profits from merchandise with guaranteed payments to the team could not “fluctuate in response to consumer behavior,” the court explained. Thus, it concluded that such revenues were “independent of any reaction that any individual might have had to the Flying B logo.”

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