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How Not to Get Sacked When Filing a Lawsuit

Engaging in a little bit of Monday morning quarterbacking, Wired GC offers some advice to fellow GCs on how to avoid having your image sacked when filing a lawsuit. Wired GC gleans these lessons from this story from the New York Times (11/12/06) about University of Alabama's lawsuit against sport artist Daniel A. Moore. This picture, “The Sack,” depicts a famous hit on Notre Dame quarterback Steve Beuerlein by Alabama player Cornelius Bennett in 1986. The university alleges that Mr. Moore’s paintings violate trademark rights, including the use of crimson and white. But while University of Alabama has strong grounds for protecting its copyright interests, it is losing ground in the court of public opinion.

From Wired GC's perspective, here's what went wrong. First, Alabama never talked to Mr. Moore (an Alabama alum himself); rather, they simply faxed him the lawsuit, drawing criticism from other Alabama alumni and faculty. And university spokespeople would not comment on the lawsuit. 

As for lessons that GCs can learn, Wired GC writes:

The first is just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. The second is that methods matter, and are largely what the court of public opinion rules on. Finally, there’s the reality of the “no comment” in the Internet Age. If you want spokespeople to try that handoff to “the lawyers,” fine. Just don’t be surprised when your little lawsuit shows up on page one of a major newspaper, and on its website.  It’s the kind of PR a university just can’t buy.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on November 15, 2006 at 03:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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