A Buffalo Bills fan group and Texas A&M have reached an amicable resolution over their dispute about “the 12th man.”
The Texas university originally threatened a lawsuit because it had a trademark on the phrase “the 12th man,” which the Buffalo group used in its website name.
The Orchard Park-based fan group, formed to help keep the Bills in Buffalo, had already cooperated by changing its website name from “12thManThunder.com” to “BillsFanThunder.com,” and all domain names and social media accounts will now go to Texas A&M as part of the agreement.
“We are absolutely thrilled with the results of our negotiations,” said Charles “Chuckie” Sonntag, a double amputee and cancer survivor, and one of four co-founders of the group.
Sonntag said he was forbidden from discussing whether a financial settlement was involved.
“We appreciate the passion Bills Fan Thunder brings to their work to maintain an NFL franchise in Buffalo,” said Shane Hinckley, a Texas A&M spokesman.
The university, with a $8 billion endowment, said it had to protect the trademarked phrase “the 12th man,” which it has owned since 1922. The Bills and the Seattle Seahawks both pay licensing fees for its use.
Attorneys from Texas A&M archrival, the University of Texas, contacted Sonntag, offering to help him challenge the trademark pro bono. But he declined, deciding it wasn’t going to help keep the Bills in Buffalo.
Since the website was started, more than 10,000 people have signed a petition to keep the Bills in Buffalo.