Saying his Canadian Football League franchise would be "irreparably injured" by the loss of the Colts name, Baltimore owner Jim Speros yesterday appealed the preliminary injunction handed down by a U.S. District judge in Indianapolis.
Speros' attorneys asked the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago to stay the injunction issued by Judge Larry J. McKinney last Monday. They also sought an expedited appeal in an effort to get the name restored for next Thursday's CFL opener in Toronto against the Argonauts.
Attorney George Pappas of Venable, Baetjer and Howard said the appeal was accepted by the Seventh Circuit, which issued an order for the NFL to respond by the close of business Tuesday.
The NFL, NFL Properties and the Indianapolis Colts gained the temporary restraining order after filing a civil suit in Indianapolis, charging Speros and the CFL with trademark rights infringement over the use of the name Colts.
In Speros' deposition submitted with the appeal yesterday, he said if the team is unable to use the name until the appeal is decided, "the team's reputation and its ability to establish itself as a viable CFL franchise will be irreparably injured."
He said it would take several months to select a new name, and that the loss of identity would create a diminished perception of the team.
"If many Americans' first glimpse of the CFL is a team with no name, they could conclude that the team -- and the league -- is in disarray, or is simply second-rate," Speros said in the deposition.
Speros further said that the lack of name could affect the success of the CFL's American expansion.
In the appeal filing, the attorneys wrote that the Indianapolis decision for injunction "is not only internally inconsistent, but is also based upon a flawed analysis and misunderstanding the relevant trademark law." The court erred, the appeal said, by failing to address the issue of abandonment of the trademark.
Speros has started a defense fund for the lawsuit, an escrow account at the First National Bank of Maryland. He said the fund received $150 yesterday.
"I think I've done what the people asked me to do," Speros said. "This is their name, the name they chose. We'll fight for the name, but I'm asking the fans to please support us."