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Tech Settles With Salt Lake Baseball Team on Use of Buzz Trademark

Oct. 2, 2001

ATLANTA –

For more information contact:Larry BowieInstitute Communications and Public Affairslarry.bowie@icpa.gatech.edu404-894-6016

A Triple-A minor league baseball team that called itself the Salt Lake Buzz agreed today to pay Georgia Tech $600,000 for infringing on Tech’s trademarked name for its mascot “Buzz.”

The settlement filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta ends a three-year legal battle between the minor league team and Georgia Tech over the rights to the name Buzz. Tech, whose mascot Buzz is one of the best-known mascots in the country, has owned the trademark for use of the word for sporting and entertainment purposes since 1988.

The terms of the settlement bar the Salt Lake team from using Buzz in the team’s name, web site, or for merchandising purposes. In addition, a trademark application the team filed for the name “Buzzy,” the team mascot, was dismissed, according to the settlement. The team is a AAA Pacific Coast League Affiliate of the Anaheim Angels.

“We think this case shows we mean business when it comes to protecting our trademarks, and we’re willing to challenge those people who infringe on them,” said Tammy Tuley Purves, Director of Client Communications for Georgia Tech.

Last year the baseball team changed its name to the Salt Lake Stingers. However, Georgia Tech officials were concerned that permitting the Salt Lake Buzz to go unchallenged could lead to other encroachments on Tech trademarks.

“The name Buzz is synonymous with Georgia Tech,” Purves said. “With our visibility as a top-ranked university, our mascot has become one of the most popular in sports today. This settlement is testament to our ownership of the trademark, and the efforts of Tech and the Collegiate Licensing Company, our licensing agency, to protect our brands.”

In addition, she said, trademark infringement could reduce the revenue collected from Georgia Tech’s trademarks, which would have a significant impact on the Institute.

Each time a licensed item bearing a Georgia Tech trademark is sold, the Institute collects a portion of the wholesale price. Georgia Tech derives nearly $300,000 annually from licensing its trademarked logos – revenue that funds much-needed scholarships, internships, and other student-focused programs.

Georgia Tech and the baseball team became entangled over the rights to the Buzz name after owner Joe Buzas moved his baseball franchise to Utah in the early 1990s and renamed it the Salt Lake Buzz, a nod to the old Salt Lake City Bees.

The name passed unnoticed until 1997 when Salt Lake Buzz merchandise was seen on sale in Atlanta. Tech began negotiating with the team and asked Buzas to stop using the name. The team initially agreed, but reneged and filed a lawsuit in a Utah court against Tech, asking the court to allow the team to continue using the name. Georgia Tech filed the countersuit in 1998.

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