Shaq and a company that he has officially licensed his name and image to are involved in a lawsuit in Las Vegas with another company that has been using O'Neal's "Shaqtus" nickname on apparel and a Website. Yes, the man of 1000 nicknames is at the center of a little trademark brouhaha all because someone is squatting on the www.shaqtus.net site and selling t-shirts (which you can still get for $15 at their site) bearing the likeness, nickname, and number of the Shaqtus. Here's the legal lowdown:
Attorneys for Mine O’Mine with the Las Vegas law firm of Lewis and Roca LLP charge in the suit that in February and March 2008, after O’Neal was traded by Miami to Phoenix, Mortensen registered the Web site domain name shaqtus.com and Calmese, in the name of True Fan Logo, registered the name shaqtus.net.
The suit says that in 2008 and 2009, ESPN broadcast commercials featuring O’Neal encountering a cactus bearing his face in the Arizona desert, and that on Dec. 4 Calmese sent a letter to ESPN claiming to own the Shaqtus trademark and offering to resolve the matter if ESPN would do business with Calmese, including development of a "Shaqtusclaus" clip for Christmas.
On Dec. 8, attorneys for ESPN responded to Calmese and told him ESPN received consent from Mine O’Mine to use "Shaq" trademarks and asserting that it was Calmese who was infringing on Mine O’Mine’s intellectual property rights, the lawsuit says.
On Dec. 29, attorneys for Mine O’Mine and O’Neal demanded that Calmese and True Fan Logo stop using the Shaqtus name and that the shaqtus.net and shaqtus.com Web site names be transferred to Mine O’Mine, the suit says. It says that on Jan. 4, Calmese responded that O’Neal consented to Calmese’s use of the Shaqtus name when O’Neal agreed to take a picture with Calmese and autograph a t-shirt.
"Neither O’Neal nor Mine O’Mine has granted a license to use the Shaq right of publicity or to use and own the Shaqtus mark or the shaqtus.com or shaqtus.net domain names," the lawsuit charges.
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