Former Rutgers player sues school, assistant coach for trademark infringement

PISCATAWAY, NJ – SEPTEMBER 30: The Rutgers Scarlet Knights mascot runs onto the field before a game against the Ohio State Buckeyes on September 30, 2017 at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey. Ohio State won 56-0. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

A former Rutgers player is suing the school — and a current Rutgers coach — for trademark infringement.

NJ.com reported Monday that Anger Sports, a New Jersey apparel company owned by former Scarlet Knights fullback John Ciurciu, is suing Rutgers for using one of its logos and brand names without permission. Anger Sports has a trademark for “Rare Breed,” a lifestyle and apparel brand, while Rutgers, namely offensive line/assistant head coach A.J. Blazek, uses the name “Rare Breed” for its offensive line group (the team, like many others across the country, has special names for each position group).

From NJ.com:

Rutgers and Blazek “have openly and defiantly co-opted Rare Breed’s brand in furtherance of their efforts to recruit into and coach student-athletes in the Rutgers Scarlet Knights football program,” according to the complaint.

The complaint states that Rare Breed demanded Rutgers to stop its “unlawful conduct, including the infringing use of its” logo and that Rutgers “acknowledged wrongdoing and agreed to stop.” However, the Rutgers football program ignored “repeated and acknowledged demands” and “caused … irreparable harm to Rare Breed’s brand,” according to the 24-page complaint.

Per NJ.com, NFL players Adrian Peterson and Brian Cushing, along with former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms, have worn “Rare Breed” clothing. Meanwhile at Rutgers, the “Rare Breed” name is used on social media, mainly in recruiting, with each “R” capitalized like the school’s block “R” logo. Ciurciu wants Rutgers to stop using “Rare Breed” altogether.

From NJ.com:

Ciurciu is seeking through judgement to halt Rutgers’ use of the trademark words and logo, destroy all current products and electronic files bearing Rare Breed, remove all uses from Blazek’s social media accounts and provide accounting of all revenue generated from its use. Additionally, actual and statutory damages in an unknown amount are part of the compensation sought.

Blazek arrived at Rutgers when Chris Ash was brought on as head coach ahead of the 2016 season. The Iowa letterman was first hired as offensive line coach before adding the assistant head coach title. Before landing at Rutgers, Blazek coached the offensive lines at Western Illinois, Winona State and Fort Hays State.

After his playing days at Rutgers, Ciurciu was a defensive line coach at multiple high schools in New Jersey and also coached at William Paterson University. He currently serves as the defensive line and strength and conditioning coach at St. Joseph High School in Montvale, New Jersey.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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