Frederick Bouchat has been fighting the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens for a long time.
The team moved from Cleveland to Charm City in 1996; for the first three seasons in Baltimore, the logo on the team helmets was a “Flying B” – A letter B on a shield with a couple of raven wings on the side.
Bouchat, a security guard and an amateur artist, drew a “Flying B” logo and faxed it to the team in 1995. He asked for an autographed helmet and a letter of acknowledgement. He got neither when the team debuted the helmets in 1996.
He sued the team and the NFL a year later, and in 1997, a Maryland federal judge ruled the team had infringed on his design. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined the appeal.
When Bouchat went to a jury in 2002 for damages, they awarded him nothing. Not even an autographed helmet.
Fast forward a couple of years. Bouchat, still steamed at designing a pro team logo with nothing to show for it, files another suit in Baltimore federal court against the Ravens and the league. The Flying B logo shows up in old NFL Films from 1996-98. U.S. District Judge Marvin Garbis tossed the suit, but the 4th Circuit reinstated parts of it.
Now, Bouchat wants to add another defendant – Electronic Arts Inc., the maker of the wildly popular Madden football video games.
The Daily Record, our sister paper in Baltimore, reports that Madden 2011 apparently has a “retro” feature programmed into it, allowing players to use an old logo or uniform for the various teams.
And yes, Bouchat’s lawyer said, the “Flying B” belonging to his client shows up in the game.
No word from the judge when he will rule on adding EA to the suit. Bouchat may recognize the judge — Garbis is the same guy who threw out his suit in 2008, before the 4th Circuit reinstated portions of it.
Note: The images below, from the Maryland Intellectual Property Law Blog, depict Bouchat’s original 1995 drawing and the Ravens’ initial helmet logo.