EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) -Larry Bird filed a lawsuit alleging a couple who bought his former home in southern Indiana are improperly using his name to promote a bed-and-breakfast.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, claims Georgianna Lincoln and Christopher Cooke did not have permission to use the NBA Hall of Famer's name with the property and are profiting off his trademark by stating the home belonged to him.
``The commercialization of Larry Bird's name in association with this former property is wholly and completely unauthorized and is blatantly being done for the sole purpose of profiting illegally from Larry Bird's name,'' the lawsuit states.
Cooke, an attorney in Alaska, said Tuesday that negotiations had ended in good faith with a spoken permission to use Bird's name in association with the home.
``That's what it is. Everybody in French Lick calls it Larry Bird's home,'' Cooke said. ``All I know is they told us certain things when we were considering purchasing the property, and after we bought it they had a different story.''
The Web site for the 12-acre resort called the ``Legend of French Lick'' advertises the property as ``the former home of Larry Bird'' and invites visitors to play basketball on the court where Bird ``spent hours practicing and perfecting his shot when at home in French Lick.''
As a star with the Boston Celtics, Bird picked up various nicknames including ``the Hick from French Lick'' and the ``Legend of French Lick.'' Bird, now president of the Indiana Pacers, trademarked his name and likeness with U.S. Patent and Trademark office to control their use in promotions and items such as T-shirts.
Cooke said he was aware of the trademark but stressed he was given permission to use it.
``They told me we could make truthful statements about Larry's past,'' Cooke said. ``Larry even called me and wish used well and thought we would do well.''
Indianapolis law firm Ice Miller filed the lawsuit Monday against the Legend of French Lick LLC, the company run by Lincoln and Cooke. Attorney Mark Wukmer, who is representing Bird, declined to comment Tuesday.
The lawsuit states that Lincoln and Cooke also attempted to buy furniture and memorabilia in the home to use in the resort, but the requests were denied.
Cooke, however, said Bird's representatives gave him an ``appreciation packet'' including basketballs signed by Bird and jerseys from Indiana State, which Bird led to the NCAA championship game in 1979.
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