Seahawks reach 5-year licensing deal with Texas A&M

ByDarren Rovell ESPN logo
Thursday, August 11, 2016

Texas A&Mhas reached a new agreement to license use of the 12th Man phrase to the Seattle Seahawks, the school announced Thursday.

As part of the new five-year deal, the Seahawks will pay an undisclosed royalty fee for using the mark just in the Pacific Northwest. A source also told ESPN that the Seahawks annually will help fund some of A&M's legal bills to protect the mark.

Unlike the terms of the earlier deals, which were initiated in 2006 and re-signed in 2011, the Seahawks will no longer use "12th Man" on its Ring of Honor, nor will the team use "12th Man" on its social media handles. The team has never been permitted to put "12th Man" on merchandise.

"We are obviously pleased to have in place the new agreement with the Seattle Seahawks that serves to control and minimize any use of Texas A&M's trademark '12th Man' by any entity other than Texas A&M and its authorized licensees," said Texas A&M system chancellor John Sharp, in a statement.

Over the past couple of years, the Seahawks have used the "12th Man" phrase on fewer occasions as the team has shifted to using "12" and "12s," which it has sought to own.

The Seahawks filed for its first "12" trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in April January 2006 with "Spirit of 12," which it became a registered owner of in 2008. Since then, the Seahawks -- under its parent company Football Northwest -- filed for trademarks using "12" or "12s" on 52 occasions.

The Seahawks are the owners of "12," "The 12s," "We Are 12s."

Texas A&M and the Seahawks began working together after the university took legal action against the team for using the phrase it had trademarked in 1990 without its permission.

After the initial lump sum of $100,000 in 2006, the Seahawks had been paying $5,000 a year. It is unknown what the fee is in the new deal that runs through 2021.

As with the former contracts, the compensation is not expected to be large, but it is nonetheless important for the school. Having a contract for use with an NFL team further helps establish the value of its trademark.

In November, Texas A&M sued the Indianapolis Colts for using the "12th Man" without the school's permission. The lawsuit was settled with no money changing hands after the Colts agreed to stop using it.