On Feb. 4, Texas A&M University sent a trademark infringement letter to members of Success with Honor — a Penn State alumni organization that brings other alumni together through charity work — for its use of the phrase 12th Man.
Though Success with Honor used the phrase to explain its hope for the future of its organization, it has complied with Texas A&M’s request and has changed the name of its program from the 12th Man to The Bench.
But the 12th Man phrase has a different meaning to Texas A&M. Texas A&M has held the trademark on the 12th Man since 1922. The 12th Man is not only seen written across the school’s football stadium, but is also part of a long time tradition for the mascot, the Aggies. In the event that the football team needs help, someone that is not a part of the team, or the twelfth man, comes from the stands to help the team. The 12th man is always ready to help the team, according to the Texas A&M’s 12th man website.
“The 12th Man is considered our primary brand, and we are always actively trying to protect that brand,” Assistant Vice President of Business Development at Texas A&M University Shane Hinckley said.
As previously reported, the “12th Man” concept as used by Success with Honor is for newly-formed Penn State organizations to feel like they can turn to Success with Honor first for help in getting started.
“The idea of the 12th Man was only beginning to take shape for us, so we were willing to comply with Texas A&M’s request,” founder of Success with Honor Robert Taylor said .
This is not the first time that Texas A&M University has ran into problems with use of its trademark, as it has been popularly used by NFL teams. But the Seattle Seahawks in May 2006 was granted limited use of the trademark.