NFL Player Blows Whistle on K.C. Chiefs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CN) – A former NFL player claims in court that the Kansas City Chiefs Ambassadors Club not only swiped his copyrighted art from him, but had the brass to trademark the stolen work.
     Christopher Martin sued the Kansas City Chiefs Football Club, Trustees of the Kansas City Chiefs Ambassadors and the Chiefs Ambassadors Charitable Foundation on Friday in Federal Court.
     Martin says in the lawsuit that he was asked to join the Ambassadors Foundation in 1996, after his playing days had ended. He claims that he shared several pieces of artwork produced by his company, Crown Pro, while discussing the organization’s brand and image.
     “Upon information and belief, the Ambassadors Organization copied the artwork, made changes and alterations to the artwork, and incorporated the artwork into a variety of promotional and marketing material including hats, clothing, letterhead, and their website,” the complaint states.
     “Upon information and belief, the Ambassadors Organization then began using the infringing artwork without restriction, essentially taking the artwork and claiming it as their own.
     “The Ambassadors Organization even registered a Trademark with the United
     States Patent and Trademark Office, U.S. Trademark Registration No. 2,268,192, based upon the infringing artwork.”
     Martin says he became aware of the infringement when he attended an event at Arrowhead Stadium in 2006 and saw the artwork on clothing items worn by organization members. He says he asked that the organization stop using his artwork, but it refused.
     Martin wants the defendants enjoined from using his artwork, and damages for copyright infringement. He is represented by Nichelle L. Closson, with Humphrey, Farrington & McClain, of Independence.
     This is not the first time the Chiefs have been accused of playing fast and loose with art.
     In 2011, a photographer claimed the team used strong-arm tactics to use his picture in an Arrowhead Stadium renovation. That lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice in 2013.

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