It’s no secret that the number 12 is important to the Seattle Seahawks. The team refers to fans as 12s, raises a 12th Man flag before every home game and sells a ton of merchandise emblazoned with the number 12.
A new lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle, claims the Seahawks are trying to “obtain a monopoly” on the number 12, and have engaged in a pattern of harassment against “legitimate owners of trademarks with some connection to the number.” The plaintiff, PBTM LLC, wants to invalidate several of the Seahawks’ trademarks, arguing its 12-related marks predate those of the team’s.
PBTM is an entity based Nevada, run by Ken Brunelle and Danny Piper, per state corporation records. Court documents note that the organization holds six 12-related trademarks for phrases like V12 and Volume 12.
The conflict between the Seahawks and PBTM dates back to at least 2016, when the team opposed a 12-related trademark application. PBTM wanted to trademark “V12 VERIFIED, PROPERTY OF THE FANS,” and “VERIFIED12.COM,” to sell clothing and other merchandise.
The number 12 has a complicated history in football circles. Though the Seahawks have become known for using the number to refer to its fanbase, Texas A&M has held a trademark for the phrase since 1990.
Following a legal battle between the university and the NFL team, the Seahawks worked out a deal with Texas A&M in 2006 to use the 12th Man trademark. The Seahawks paid a $100,000 lump sum and an annual fee to the university. In 2016, the Seahawks agreed to pay Texas A&M $140,000 over five years to continue the arrangement.
According to the lawsuit, the Seahawks have been aggressive in trying to own the number 12 across a number of areas. The suit claims the “Seahawks initially opposed ‘Hunger Games’ author Suzanne Collins’ efforts to trademark ‘District 12’ with the USPTO but then withdrew its opposition.”
We’ve reached out to the Seahawks for comment, and we will update this post if we hear back.