12th Man Copyright Lawsuit against Texas A&M

by Travis Normand
January 23, 2017

I first saw this reported by the SETexasRecord.com, but I have since seen it reported by several other media outlets as well.

A book publisher and author, Michael Bynum, (Plaintiffs) have sued the Texas A&M Athletic Department, the 12th Man Foundation, and others, (Defendants) in federal court for what appears to be a claim of copyright infringement. The lawsuit was filed on January 19, 2017.

The Plaintiffs claim that Defendants stole the author’s unpublished biography of E. King Gill, and “copied and distributed it as if it was their own” (see lawsuit paragraph 1). For those who may not be aware, E. King Gill was the student behind Texas A&M’s famous 12th Man tradition.

Texas A&M has been involved in several lawsuits over the years in order to protect their federal 12th Man trademark. The most prominent of these lawsuits involved the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts.

In this current lawsuit, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants had received a PDF copy of Bynum’s unpublished book for the limited purpose of fact-checking, locating additional photos, and an option to purchase copies for former students. The lawsuit goes on to allege that one particular Defendant retyped the biography, changed its title, and deleted Bynum’s name before republishing the material (see lawsuit paragraph 4, etc.).

Plaintiffs claim that by “unlawfully copying and publishing the heart of Bynums work . . . Defendants destroyed Plaintiffs’ prospects for a successful print run, and the . . . book remains unpublished to this day” (see lawsuit paragraph 5).

The lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of Texas, Federal Court, Houston Texas as Case No. 4:17-CV-0181.  Plaintiffs’ original complaint can been seen below.

Bynum v. Texas A&M Univ. Athletic Dept., 17-cv-00181 (S.D. Tex.)

 

Other information regarding this case:

Plaintiff’s Attorney: Natalie L. Arbaugh (is now apparently with a different law firm from when the case was filed).

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