A&M Will "Defend" 12th Man Trademark vs. Denver Broncos

Six years after a public battle with an NFL franchise over the use of one of its most recognizable phrases, it appears Texas A&M University is ready to talk to another pro team about it.

A&M Vice President for Marketing and Communications Jason Cook took to Twitter Sunday night following the Denver Broncos' playoff victory and noted what many had seen before the game: a man parachuting into the Broncos' stadium with a "12th Man" flag.

"FYI #Broncos, the 12th Man belongs to Texas A&M. We saw the flag today and will defend our trademark. #TAMU #gigem," tweeted Cook.

A&M holds the trademark for "12th Man," a term which dates back to 1922 when Aggie student E. King Gill came out of the stands ready to take the field for a short-handed A&M football squad.

Cook says A&M's legal counsel will examine what steps the university should take going forward with Denver, which could include a cease and desist order going to the Broncos.

In 2006 during a playoff run of their own, the Seattle Seahawks were seen on national television prominently displaying "12th Man" at their stadium. A&M launched legal action against the Seahawks, eventually settling out of court and allowing Seattle to use the phrase, but for a fee and with credit to A&M.

According to the Seahawks' website, their "12th Man" tradition dates back to the early days of the franchise, which came into existence in 1976. In 1984, the team retired the jersey number 12 for its fans, and in 2003, a "12th Man" flag was raised at the stadium. The website also displays a tiny reminder at the bottom of its "12th Man" page: "® The term 12th MAN is a trademark of Texas A & M University and its use is pursuant to a license agreement with the university."

A search of the Broncos' website for the term "12th Man" turns up 24 pages with the reference, including a 2003 game that the team declared "12th Man Sunday" featuring "12th Man" t-shirts through a local radio station.

Sunday's Pittsburgh Steelers-Denver Broncos game, which was seen on KBTX and CBS affiliates across the country, was the most watched Wildcard round game in 24 years, according to the network.

The Broncos have generated a lot of local interest with Aggie Von Miller playing his rookie season with Denver and earning a Pro Bowl invite. Former A&M standout Ty Warren was also signed by the team in the off-season, but did not play a down this season due to injury.

News 3 has requested comment from the Broncos on the matter.


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