LAS VEGAS (CN) – The Arena Football League claims a Texan told it he wanted to buy one of its teams, or start a new one, then announced he was founding a rival league two weeks after he signed a confidentiality agreement.
Arena Football One dba AFL sued Mark Palmer, of Austin, on Oct. 15 in Federal Court, alleging fraud, unfair competition, deceptive trade and trademark violations. Arena Football, founded in 1987, is an indoor football league.
It claims Palmer approached it in July about starting an AFL franchise in Austin, and acquiring the AFL’s New Orleans VooDoo franchise. He signed a confidentiality agreement on July 8, the AFL says, and it handed over confidential information, including financial and organizational information.
Two weeks later, on July 22, “Palmer created a Facebook page and started putting together a website for his own competing indoor football league he was branding under the confusingly similar name Arena Football Federation, with the abbreviation AFF,” the league says in the complaint.
Palmer swiped the “Arena Football” trademark, and “Palmer’s social media and webpages brazenly display AFL photographs and imbed videos of AFL in-game highlights creating additional consumer confusion,” according to the complaint.
It continues: “Palmer has been using confidential information obtained from the AFL, including team financial information, league financial information, and AFL governing documents in an attempt to set up, promote and attract owners and investors to his competing football league.”
Palmer created websites for an Austin Armadillos team and the American Football Federation, and uses AFL content and trademarks to promote his rival indoor football league, the AFL says.
The Arena Football Federation website, checked Tuesday morning, indicates it has teams in Austin, Denver, San Antonio, and Tulsa, for a planned inaugural season in 2016.
A Wiki website, also checked this morning, indicates it also has teams in Las Vegas and Little Rock and might add teams from the AFL.
The AFL claims Palmer makes “false or deceptive” claims about his league, its teams, the timeline for games, and the goods or services it provides.
The AFL claims Palmer is infringing on 15 trademarks, including Arena Football.
It seeks a permanent injunction and punitive damages for trademark infringement and dilution, false designation of origin, fraud, deceptive trade, unfair competition and breach of contract.
It is represented by Mark Borghese, who did not return a call seeking comment.
Palmer was not immediately available for comment.
The Arena Football League has completed 28 seasons, has had games televised on CBS and ESPN, and claims it draws more than 1 million fans to its stadiums every year. It concludes each season with its ArenaBowl championship game, and has a Hall of Fame.
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