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Larry Bird suing over improper use of his name

May 13, 2008
Larry Bird is suing a French Lick couple in federal court over the use of his name on a bed and breakfast they are operating in the Hoosier icon's boyhood home.

The lawsuit, filed May 12 in the New Albany division of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, demands that the Legend of French Lick LLC cease and desist using his name.

Bird, president of basketball operations for the Indiana Pacers and a former NBA star, has his name registered as a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The complaint stems from Bird's sale of a house in French Lick to Georgianna Lincoln and Christopher Cooke in the summer of 2007. During negotiations, they attempted to purchase many items of memorabilia from Bird and sought to use his name to identify the house, according to the lawsuit. All requests were denied.

Unknown to Bird, the suit alleges, the couple created a separate entity anyway, named Legend of French Lick LLC. They then began marketing the bed and breakfast as Legend of French Lick, the Former Home of Larry Bird Resort.

"The commercialization of Larry Bird's name in association with this former property is wholly and completely unauthorized and is blatantly being done for the sole purpose of profiting illegally from Larry Bird's name," a lawyer for Bird wrote in the complaint.

The suit seeks to stop the alleged unauthorized use of Bird's name in violation of federal trademark laws and state publicity laws. It also seeks damages for the improper use, and the return of certain property that allegedly has been improperly used by the defendants.

Michael Wukmer and Michael McNally of Ice Miller LLP are representing Bird.

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