Texas A&M, Seahawks reach new agreement for '12th Man' trademark

Sam Cooper
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Texas A&M and the Seattle Seahawks have reached a new agreement on the usage of TAMU’s trademarked “12th Man” phrase.

The two sides have a five-year deal that has a few new provisions, the school announced Thursday. Seattle will no longer be able to use “12th Man” on the “Ring of Honor” at CenturyLink Field or reference it on Seahawks social media accounts. A&M and Seattle initially reached an agreement in 2006 when A&M took legal action against the NFL franchise for unauthorized use of the phrase. A&M first issued a federal trademark in 1990.

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Like A&M, Seattle uses the phrase to describe its fan base as the symbolic 12th man on the field. But for A&M, the phrase dates back nearly 100 years.

From A&M’s press release:

The “12th Man” use by Texas A&M dates back almost a century and directly relates to the legendary actions of the late E. King Gill, a Texas A&M student who came out of the stands at an Aggie football game on Jan 2, 1922 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas—ready to enter the game if needed because of injuries to the team’s regular players. Gill was the original 12th Man.

“We appreciate the Seahawks’ management working with us on a mutual agreement for the licensed use of the mark,” A&M president Michael Young said in a statement. “The 12th Man is a cherished tradition. Keeping it alive is important because it reflects the willingness and readiness of Aggies to fearlessly step in whenever and wherever needed.”

Added A&M chancellor John Sharp: “We are obviously pleased to have in place the new agreement with the Seattle Seahawks that serves to control and minimize any use of Texas A&M University’s trademark ‘12th Man’ by any entity other than Texas A&M or its authorized licensees.”

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Seattle will continue to pay an annual royalty fee to the university as it shifts its focus to the use of “12” or “12s.” According to ESPN, the Seahawks have trademarks for “Spirit of 12,” “12,” “The 12s” and “We Are 12s.”

In November, A&M filed suit against another NFL team — the Indianapolis Colts — for using the phrase. The Colts used “12th Man” in team promotions asking season ticket holders to “join the 12th Man” via email. Per ESPN, the Colts agreed to stop using it and the suit was settled “with no money changing hands.”

For more Texas A&M news, visit AggieYell.com.

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