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Bills fan group and Texas A&M reach settlement over “12th man” trademark dispute

A Buffalo Bills fan group and Texas A&M, which threatened a lawsuit over the group’s use of its trademarked term “the 12th man,” have reached an amiable resolution, both sides announced today.

The Orchard Park-based fan group, formed to help keep the Bills in Buffalo, had already cooperated by changing its website name from “12thManThunder.com” to “BillsFanThunder.com,” and all domain names and social media accounts will now revert to Texas A&M as part of the agreement.

“We are absolutely thrilled with the results of our negotiations,” said Charles “Chuckie Sonntag, a double amputee and cancer survivor, and one of four co-founders of the group.

Sonntag said he was precluded from discussing whether a financial settlement was involved.

“We appreciate the passion Bills Fan Thunder brings to their work to maintain an NFL franchise in Buffalo,” said Shane Hinckley, a Texas A&M spokesman.

The university, with a $5 million endowment, said it had to protect the trademarked phrase “the 12th man” it has owned since 1922. The Bills and the Seattle Seahawks both pay licensing fees for its use.

Attorneys from Texas A&M arch-rival the University of Texas contacted Sonntag offering to help him challenge the trademark pro bono. But he decline, deciding it wasn’t going to help keep the Bills in Buffalo.

Since the website was started, more than 10,000 people have signed a petition to keep the Bills in Buffalo.

email: msommer@buffnews.com

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