UA stonewalls on cost of suing artist Daniel Moore

Alabama Scene

“The University of Alabama is paying for the legal fees in this case,” according to a deposition under oath by Montgomery attorney Joe Espy, past president pro tem
of the University of Alabama Board of Trustees. “Thus, it’s clearly public money, whether it was donated to us or how we came involved, so certainly public funds are being used,” Espy testified.

So we now have it on the record that public funds are being used to sue Daniel Moore, a man who has played a large part in creating the legacy of Crimson Tide football. So why won’t the university tell us how much has been spent on the lawsuit?

When The Montgomery Independent

posed that question to the school last week there was a lot of double talk, but no numbers. Here’s what a UA spokesperson said:

“Thank you for your interest regarding the Daniel Moore lawsuit. While we regret the necessity of having to involve the courts in this matter, the lawsuit was necessary since UA must protect the value of our trademarks, name, colors, indicia, and logos by defining who uses them, when, and how. Many millions of dollars in licensing fees and scholarships – and the University’s reputation – are at stake. Any further comment by the University about the situation while the lawsuit is pending would be inappropriate.”

“The university’s reputation is at stake?” Let me suggest it has already been tarnished by this nonsensical litigation.

Follow-up questions by e-mail went unanswered. Revelations that the university has spent millions of dollars suing one of its favorite sons come at a time when tuition on the main campus in Tuscaloosa is increasing 13 percent for the 2010-11 academic year.

By appealing a federal trial court verdict in Moore’s favor, the university has kept the clock running at two large and expensive law firms, Kilpatrick Stockton in Atlanta and Starnes Davis Florie in Birmingham. Both firms charge upwards of $450 per hour.

One lawyer estimated a cost of $1.5 million to $2 million after nearly fiveand a-half years of litigation, six U.S District Court judges, and two appeals to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Yet, the University appears no closer to prevailing in its trademark infringement lawsuit against Moore than it was a year ago.

That’s when the university lost in federal district court, alleging Moore painted scenes of Crimson Tide football games without permission from the university and reissued previously licensed prints without paying royalties.

“Just knowing what UA’s two law firms charge per hour, it is my independent guess that they’ve spent well over $1 million and it wouldn’t surprise me if it were over $2 million now,” Moore told The Independent.

A source close to the case estimated the university had spent $1.5 million on the case before it went to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. Moore questioned why the university would spend “well over a million dollars,” when the alleged damages in the case amount to $800,000 or less.

Let’s see now … UA wants to charge a license fee for drawing pictures of the school’s great moments in sports. What next? Will they start asking press and broadcast outlets to pay a license fee for the free publicity they give the school by showing pictures of the school’s great moments in sports?

Twenty-seven other universities, including Auburn, have asked the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to allow them to file a brief supporting Alabama’s lawsuit against Moore. The fact that these universities would join Alabama’s fight, seems impressive. However, Moore points out the schools have a common licensing affiliate, Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC), and this number represents only 17 percent of CLC’s college client base.

But the larger question is this: If UA is successful, how soon will it be before they want to charge us to take a photo of Denny Chimes or Bryant- Denny Stadium or Nick Saban or perhaps the state would charge a license fee for a picture of the state capitol building, or … heaven forbid … a legislator. As confirmed by lawyer Espy, all university properties are owned by the people of Alabama and so are those great moments in Tide or Tiger sports history so somebody in T-Town please stop this nonsense.