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“America’s Team” doesn’t belong to the United States Olympic Committee, or to Jerry Jones in Dallas, or to George Steinbrenner in New York. No, “America’s Team,” or at least the rights to the name, belongs to Bryan Reichel, a Minnesota small-businessman, a federal trademark panel has ruled. Reichel won a five-year legal battle with the United States Olympic Committee over who owned the trademark “America’s Team.” The panel’s decision clears the way for Reichel to sell the name or begin marketing it. Reichel, who bought the rights to the trademark in 1998 from another company that was already embroiled in litigation with the USOC, said he’s been approached in the past by the Jones’ Dallas Cowboys, sometimes dubbed America’s Team by the media in their better years, and Steinbrenner’s Yankees, who for generations also informally claimed that title, among others. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office made its ruling last week, though the two sides didn’t receive notice until Monday. The USOC argued that the trademark was available because Reichel had abandoned it by non-use. Reichel’s attorney, David Beehler, argued that the USOC had hampered Reichel’s ability to use the name through its lawsuit. The appeal board agreed. “This small company fought a long battle against a large entity that arrogantly thought it could just bully its way over someone’s rights,” Beehler said Tuesday. The USOC did not respond to requests for comment. Reichel said the committee previously offered him an unacceptable amount of money to buy the trademark. Besides America’s Team Properties Inc., the company he created to market the logo, Reichel, 48, also runs an 18-employee Lakeville company called PureChoice Inc., which monitors air quality in schools and commercial buildings with clients able to access the data on the Internet. Reichel obtained the “America’s Team” trademark in 1998 from a small company based in Washington state that had filed for and obtained the registration two years earlier and promptly was sued by the USOC. Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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