December 10, 2012 by Charlie Eisenhood in News with 25 comments
UPDATE (12/12): The dispute has been settled and the Hammerheads will keep their logo.
The American Ultimate Disc League continues to have trouble with rights issues. Last week, the league made a promotional highlight video for their 2013 season, but was forced to take it down after some franchises — who own the rights to the game tape of their teams — complained about usage. The AUDL updated the video, cutting its length in half and removing clips of the Connecticut Constitution and others.
This, of course, happened in the context of the ongoing lawsuit over territory rights between the league and the Constitution and Rhode Island Rampage.
Now the New Jersey Hammerheads, a new AUDL franchise, are facing their own intellectual property problems.
Their logo’s biggest design element — the cartoon hammerhead shark — was taken from Tats and Tags, a temporary tattoo business operating in Iowa.
Ed Twedt, the owner of Tats and Tags, was tipped off to the NJ Hammerheads design by Jason Honyotski, who saw the hammerhead logo while doing a Google search for an unrelated design. Honyotski, a self-described Connecticut Constitution fan, contacted the Hammerheads but didn’t hear back. So he contacted Twedt to alert him of the usage.
Twedt is not happy. He got in touch with Robert Kokai, the Hammerheads’ owner, and said he wanted $5000 if they wanted to continue using the logo.
“I’ve never given anybody rights to use my artwork for anything,” Twedt told Ultiworld. “I had a school in Florida that offered to pay me $1000 for the use of it for their school. And the answer was no. And they said, ‘Really? Why?’ And I said, ‘Because it’s mine.’ You asked politely and I responded politely.”
According to Twedt, Kokai counteroffered a $400 cash payment, paid over four months, along with five years of free advertising on the Hammerheads’ website and a continued business relationship with Tats and Tags. Twedt called the offer a joke.
“He was suggesting that they basically give me back what they paid for the art,” he said. “It costs me more than a lousy $400 to create these designs that we use.”
Twedt has reduced his price, but the sides aren’t close to an agreement yet. “That’s why I figured, I’m being generous, I’ll offer it to them for $2500,” he said. “Because I want somebody to suffer, just a little bit. And if they don’t want to put that on the table, then go away.”
The problem for the Hammerheads is that they have already begun printing merchandise and using the logo in promotional materials.
Kokai said he couldn’t talk about the issue due to a non-disclosure agreement with Twedt. He said simply, “We’re working towards a resolution of the matter.”
Twedt said that Kokai has been “gracious” but that “he has to be” given his position. The logo was reportedly designed for the Hammerheads by a college student, who allegedly didn’t inform them of how he procured the shark design.
Twedt isn’t interested in how the mistake happened and wants to be properly compensated for the use of his logo. He will allow the team to just change the logo and forget about the problem, but if they want to use it they’ll need to pay a healthy sum.
We will update this story when the sides reach a resolution.