Tuesday, August 21, 2007

AT&T asks for clarification on appeals court ruling

AT&T has asked the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to clarify its ruling from last week in overturning an injunction that had allowed the AT&T logos on the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing car.


Part of the Aug. 13 ruling indicates that the entire case should be dismissed, and AT&T is asking for clarification on whether the entire case should be dismissed or whether only the portion of the case that deals with breach of contract be dismissed.


NASCAR and Sprint, which has joined the suit, believe the entire case should be dismissed, and U.S. District Court Judge Marvin Shoob indicated to both parties that if there was no clarification from the appeals court, he would be compelled to dismiss all of the claims, according to court documents filed by AT&T.


"Although the context and posture of this appeal indicate that the Court [of Appeals] could not have intended to require dismissal of the entire case, the Court should grant rehearing on this point to remove any doubt," AT&T's lawyers state in a brief filed Monday. "NASCAR has already taken the position that the Court's opinion sweeps more broadly."


AT&T had won the injunction on breach of contract grounds as Shoob ruled May 18 that NASCAR's grandfather clause in its annual licensing agreement with RCR allowed for the Cingular logos to be changed to AT&T following their December 2006 merger.


But the appellate court ruled that because the grandfather clause (enacted in 2004 when Nextel became the primary sponsor of the Cup Series) was designed to benefit RCR and not necessarily Cingular, that AT&T could not sue under breach of contract grounds.


Court documents indicate that AT&T plans to ask the district court to consider another injunction under the premise that NASCAR's actions indicated that a logo change was permissible and therefore it's an injustice that NASCAR is not permitting the change.


The AT&T logos likely will remain on the No. 31 car driven by Jeff Burton at least until the Court of Appeals rules on the clarification.

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