It’s August and that means it’s time for some preseason football action in the U.S. The NY Giants and the New England Patriots are ranked #1 and 2, but we’ve got a Pittsburgh Steelers story … or we should say we have another chapter in what seems to be ongoing “Terrible Towel” trademark stories.
We’ll start at the beginning, so skip ahead if you’re a Steelers fan. Since the mid-70s, Steeler fans have waved yellow “rally” towels in support of their team. The towel’s official name is “Myron Cope’s Official The Terrible Towel” since it was created by the late Steelers broadcaster Myron Cope (favorite phrase: “The Terrible Towel is poised to strike!”). Cope transferred rights to the towel to the Allegheny Valley School (AVS) so that royalties from the sale of “Terrible Stuff” (towels, gloves, cookies, t-shirts, etc.) would benefit children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities served by the school.
Last year, a U.S. District Court judge ruled against a t-shirt maker who was selling a black and gold t-shirt emblazoned with “The Terrible T-Shirt a Pittsburgh original.” Both the Steelers and AVS had filed suit against the company.
Now a Pennsylvania man is selling knock-off “Terrible Towels” that sport phrases in different languages, including “Yes we can Steelers” in Spanish, “Pirates Fever” in Italian, and another in Hebrew. The Steelers and AVS have filed a trademark lawsuit against the merchandiser, Nick Rossi, who says he’s not using the word “terrible” on his towels. Rossi told WTAE.com: “I can’t afford to fight them, and no one else is going to fight them because it’s Pittsburgh and it’s Myron Cope and it’s history, but I really think they’re overreaching.”
To get a visual of the real revered towel, check out “Myron Cope’s Official The Terrible Towel” in ESPN’s “It’s Not Crazy. It’s Sports.” campaign:
We know it’s early, but which teams do you think will end up battling it out in Super Bowl XLVII?
Update (August 22): The Washington Post reported that the Pittsburgh Steelers and AVS have dropped their lawsuit because Rossi has stopped selling the “Terrible Towel” knock-offs.