You may have heard the phrase “Shaq Attaq” referring to the famous NBA player and gold medal winner Shaquille O’Neal’s basketball skills. While he played basketball in Arizona for the Phoenix Suns, the Arizonians nicknamed him “The Big Cactus” and “The Big Shaqtus” in reference to the combination of Mr. O’Neal and an Arizona cactus.
You may recall that I wrote about former NFL players suing the NFL over their likenesses a couple of months ago “Purple People Eater Jim Marshall & Friends Take on the NFL.” ESPN used O’Neal’s likeness when it aired commercials featuring O’Neal encountering a cactus bearing his face in the desert. Before doing so, however, ESPN obtained Mr. O’Neal’s company, Mine O‘Mine, Inc.’s, permission to use the mark. Mine O’ Mine has the exclusive rights to use and sublicense Mr. O’Neal’s, image and likeness and to register, exploit and protect Shaq and Shaq-formative trademarks. In connection therewith, the company has a pending application for the “Shaq Attaq” mark for apparel.
Mr. O’Neal is moving from the basketball court to a different court. True Fan Logo, Inc.’s shaqtus.net website is an online retail store under the SHAQTUS ORANGE CLOTHING COMPANY mark. Playing off the ESPN commercial, the store features an animated character in the form of a cactus with O’Neal’s facial features and a basketball jersey with Mr. O’Neal’s number. This company tried to shut down the ESPN commercial claiming its ownership of the Shaqtus mark. ESPN ignored this request. However, Mr. O’Neal is not ignoring the company. Indeed, Mr. O’Neal recently sued True Fan Logo, Inc., and individuals Dan Mortenson and Michael Calamese. According to the complaint they have registered and are using shaqtus.com and shaqtus.net.
A PDF of this complaint is attached. Read more about the complaint here. The complaint includes claims of trademark infringement, unfair competition, trademark dilution, cyber-squatting and others. Shaq often wins on the basketball court. Now, he is hoping for a win in a Las Vegas court of law.