Monday, May 10, 2010

Where's John Stossel When You Need Him?

I never thought I'd write about lawsuits on this site but our buddies at Lake Erie College have taken "frivolous" to a new level, and I feel compelled to comment. Now, I expect halfwits, nitwits, and dip-(I can't say that here) to file claims just trying to make a quick buck or garner some attention, but a university is supposed to be more ethical. In this case, they're as credible as the woman asking for a bazillion dollars after spilling hot coffee on her lap.

If you're not up to speed, here are the details from The News-Herald, which covers Northern Ohio:

Lake Erie College seeks to stop company from using trade name 'Erie Storm'

Lake Erie College is going to court to protect the trade name of its athletic teams. College attorney Robert McBride of Canton has asked a judge to force McKean, Pa.-based Erie Professional Football Inc. to stop using the trade name "Erie Storm." According to the complaint filed Tuesday in Lake County Common Pleas Court:

* Since 1988, Lake Erie College athletic teams have competed under the name, "Lake Erie Storm." Clothes and other merchandise with that name are sold.

* Lake Erie's NCAA Division II teams have competed in and around Erie, Pa., as the Lake Erie Storm against Pennsylvania schools including Edinboro University, Gannon University and Mercyhurst College.

* Lake Erie was the first to use the trade name or anything similar in association with athletics, including football.

"... The trade name Lake Erie Storm has not only become widely known, but has also acquired a reputation for excellence," McBride stated in the complaint.

Stop there. Re-read that quote. Now read it out loud with a straight face. I'm not sure which is a wilder claim -- "widely known" or "reputation for excellence." Ask the next 10 people you bump into what Lake Erie College's nickname is, and they'll probably respond, "There's a Lake Erie College?" And then ask what Lake Erie College has an reputation for excellence in. Danged if I know.

Hold onto your hat; here's some more legal mumbo jumbo from the The News-Herald: "By the use of the trade name Erie Storm and the domain name, (the) defendant is misleading the public into believing that (Erie Professional Football) is associated with (Lake Erie College)," according to the complaint. On Jan. 22, Lake Erie asked the group in writing to stop using the name. However, it continues to market itself as Erie Storm, which has damaged the college's profits from merchandise sales, McBride said. College officials have also asked Judge Vincent A. Culotta to order Erie Professional Football to pay its legal fees and turn over all profits from merchandise sold under the Erie Storm name to Lake Erie.

Gimme a break! (There's your John Stossel reference.) What's next? When Tom DiVecchio says were going to have a Lake Erie storm, is he going to be served papers live on the air? I used to coach an AAU team called the Erie Red Storm. Every time I wear the T-shirt, do I need to send 50 cents to Griz Zimmerman?

All joking aside, this lawsuit could put the Erie Storm out of business because margins in minor league professional sports are slim. At the very least it will cost the team thousands of dollars either in legal fees or rebranding the club. Shame on Lake Erie College for yelling "fire" when there isn't any smoke there and harming a local small business. I'd like to see the data that led them to claim their profitable merchandise business has been damaged. More importantly, I wonder how the school would defend this baseless lawsuit in their business ethics class.

When the Storm blows into the Hammermill Center next season -- am I legally allowed to say that? -- I hope the Knights wear Erie Storm T-shirts for warm ups and then promptly send LEC back to Painsville with a resounding loss.


  1. I'm actually very glad you posted this because this really irks me!

    Lake Erie College is blowing this WAY out of proportion! What.. they beat Gannon ONE year and now they're an "elite" athletics school? Me thinks not!

    The one thing that bothered me the most, and wasn't even listed in your post, is the statement the LEC rep made saying "Erie Storm's website even tries to promote that they are affiliated with the college." HOW? I checked out LEC's site and Erie's site... I see nothing that says, on either page, that the two teams are "linked" in any way, shape or form.

    Also, to back up Erie, the "fans" were the ones who chose the name. The owners narrowed it down to 4 names and then left it up to a public vote. Now, if LEC can somehow prove that the owners "rigged" the voting so that the name "Storm" was chosen, then I may change my mind... until then, however, I think LEC should focus on their athletics (and academics) rather than suing a professional football team that probably has earned the name more so than the college.

  2. GU is also 2-0 against LEC in FB and I expect 3-0 after the 1st game in Sept.
    Here's a kick in the face on the frontof the LEC Baseball jerseys is one word "ERIE".. DAH!...
    Take it from there.

  3. If the LEC baseball jerseys say "Erie", couldn't (shouldn't?)the City of Erie sue the school since the City has been using that name since, what, 1895? Sounds fair to me.

    Seriously, this lawsuit should be immediately thrown out just for its stupidity. The school should be ashamed of itself.

    I looked at the logos, colors, etc, and there isn't the least amount of similarity. The colors are different, and the school have that weak cyclone as their logo.

    I heard today that they president of LEC is an attorney, which explains a lot.

  4. I think we should all get together and sue the school, on behalf of Erie, for stealing our name. Also, we are Erie and it's Lake Erie.. why is a Painesville, Ohio college using the term "Lake Erie"? I'd think Gannon, Mercyhurst, Edinboro, Behrend would be the appropriate "Lake Erie" colleges.

  5. On a different note, any word on why George left?

  6. Shouldn't the question be-

    any word on why George left AGAIN?

    I'm sure there are good reasons as to why Johnson is no longer @ GU, most of which we'll never know. Obviously, conditions existed back in November that led to his departure at that time. Obviously, there are still problems (legitimate or not)that he has with GU, and problems (legitimate or not) GU has with him.

    The problem I have with him is that when things were going great for 2 years, and he had a wealth of talented teammates to lead the way, everything was great. He was front and center as the team won all those games. This past year, with the talent diluted and the leadership role passed to him, he suddenly didn't like being here anymore, and he didn't really much take to being a leader.

    Finals may be over, but, in my opinion, Johnson didn't pass the character test, and I'm guessing that was the biggest problem when the pressure of being the team leader was thrust upon him.

    As the venerable (but fictional) Senator John Blutarsky once said, "When the going gets tough.....(very long pause).....The tough get going." In this case, whatever the reasons, Johnson "got going" to a school where a lot less will be expected of him. Nothing wrong with that, some people just aren't cut out to lead the way.

    Next year's team will definitely miss Johnson's contributions on the court during games, but may actually be better off in the long run when the rest of the package is considered. Bob Dukiet once spoke of "addition through subtraction". I think this is just another example.

  7. I agree but also disagree with that.

    I agree with most of that, however, my only disagreement is the "character" part. For him to come back (after his absence) and play the way he did... to me, that speaks a lot about the kid.

    He came back and almost single-handedly lead that team to the PSAC playoffs. Yes, other stepped up towards the end (i.e. - Furno), however, Johnson had what? 3? 4 games? that he had near triple-doubles.

    I do agree that when the going got tough, he got going... somewhere else.

  8. True, he came back(though the events precipitating his departure showed little to no character), but I think he had a lot of pressure from family/friends/Coach Reilly to return, and quitting in the middle of the year would have created eligibility and "finding-a-desirable-destination" issues, anyway. He showed character in returning, but, at the time, it was the much smarter alternative as well.

    It's also true that, upon his return, he contributed mightily IN GAMES, but his contributions other than on game day is what left a lot to be desired.

  9. With that I will totally agree with! I give him the credit for pouring his heart into every game, however, besides games I'm sure no one really knows what went on... but I have to say I'm leaning towards the negative.

  10. Maybe the confusion of the Lake Erie Storm and the Erie Storm was so much for George to handle that he just had to get out of down.

    I heard that after the LEC loss, he was walking off the court saying, "How'd we lose to an indoor football team?"

  11. Oops ...

    Maybe the confusion of the Lake Erie Storm and the Erie Storm was so much for George to handle that he just had to get out of town.

    I heard that after the LEC loss, he was walking off the court saying, "How'd we lose to an indoor football team?"

  12. It was just reported that the Erie Storm will be giving up their nickname at the end of the season to avoid a costly legal battle. Do you think we will now see an increase in demand for Lake Erie Storm merchandise? What a joke!

  13. Now I have to buy a new T-shirt. I think I'll mail my "A STORM IS COMING" T to Grizz. Maybe he can color the Bi-Cent Tower on the logo green so it doesn't get confused with Erie and resell it. Ha
    What a bush league joke.

  14. Jim, I thought you and everyone else should see this. It is a video made by the 5 Gannon women seniors saying goodbye to their days of playing basketball at Gannon. What a special group of girls we got to watch play basketball at Gannon. Here is the link....