ASU preparing for trademark battle with adult entertainment site - | WBTV Charlotte

ASU preparing for trademark battle with adult entertainment site

TEMPE, AZ (CBS5) -

A website came under fire Tuesday, accused of stealing the Sun Devils trademark owned by Arizona State University. The adult entertainment website is SunDevilAngels.com.

ASU is going head to head with the creator of Sun Devil Angels in hopes that either the name will change or the site will go down altogether.  They've asked for an arbitration hearing where both sides can duke it out. And a trademark attorney we spoke with says they may have a good case.

"You have extremes here, I mean on one hand, you have ASU which is like motherhood and apple pie, and the other hand you have not just any business, you have a porn site," said Donald Hudspeth. He is a business attorney, and while he isn't connected with this case, he has plenty of experience with trademark battles.

"Who had the name first? Is it being used for legitimate purpose?" Hudspeth said of the questions that will likely be asked.

He said the creator of adult website SunDevilAngels.com should've seen this coming after his trademark application was denied in 2008 because the name could cause confusion with ASU's trademark, Sun Devils.

"The general principle of law is that the trade name, trademark, trumps domain name," Hudspeth said.

The trademark application was filed by Raymond Coates, who listed an address in Mesa as the place of his business. That's where we ran into some of his family friends. They tell us Coates started the site because of his passionate for photography. They claim he wasn't trying to taint the image of Arizona State University; he just chose the name because the site features local women. 

Back in 2010, Coates also registered the name Millennium Vision Productions, saying the business was "photography entertainment." Though his family friends claim Coates no longer lives in Arizona, SunDevilAngels.com is still active.

Hudspeth said this could be tied up in court for years if either side appeals the arbitration's judgment.

"You protect your trademark because that's your identity, that's your brand, that's everything," he said.

On Tuesday the Twitter page for Sun Devil Angels posted a link to a story discussing the pending legal battle, asking, "Wat (sic) do you guys think?" We reached out to Coates via his family friends and email, but have not heard back.  We also requested an interview with ASU but they would only confirm the dispute.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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