McLane Wins Intellectual Property Case Against The Sports Authority


DATE: January 2003
CONTACT: Dara R. Taylor
Communication Ink, LLC
80 Palomino Lane, Suite 101
Bedford, NH 03110
Tel. 603.647.1414
Fax 603.647.1421

Manchester, NH —McLane, Graf, Raulerson & Middleton, Professional Association recently won an Intellectual Property (IP) case involving the Sports Authority and the Manchester-based Personal Computer Authority, Inc. McLane Attorneys Mark Wright, Thomas Donovan, and Sarah Knowlton represented The Personal Computer Authority against the significantly larger plaintiff, The Sports Authority Michigan, Inc., and its Midwestern law firm specializing in IP.

Attorney Mark Wright, who was recently recognized by The Best Lawyers of America® as one of the top Intellectual Property attorneys in the United States, filed two US service mark applications on behalf of The Personal Computer Authority in 1997. After a detailed search and analysis, Attorney Wright advised The Personal Computer Authority that there would be no likelihood of confusion between the marks “PC Authority” and “The Personal Computer Authority” and the “Authority” marks owned and registered by The Sports Authority. The Sports Authority disputed this finding, claiming it had the exclusive right to use all marks incorporating the word “authority.” It sued The Personal Computer Authority based on the claim that its use of the marks would likely cause confusion.

Nearly five years after Attorney Wright filed the initial service mark applications on behalf of The Personal Computer Authority, The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board issued a 61-page decision in its favor, finding that the Sports Authority Michigan, Inc. did not have the exclusive right to use the word “authority” in trademarks or service marks.

The Sports Authority Michigan, Inc. appealed this decision to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, DC. Attorneys Donovan and Knowlton were prepared to defend the appeal when The Sports Authority suddenly withdrew it in September 2002.

Due to the efforts of McLane’s IP team of Mark Wright, Thomas Donovan, and Sarah Knowlton, The Personal Computer Authority was able to register its two service marks and continue to use them to market and sell its personal computing services.

Attorney Wright is a director of the firm and Chairman of its Intellectual Property Practice Group. In addition to being named in The Best Lawyers in America®, he was listed as one of the top Intellectual Property attorneys in New Hampshire in the September 2002 issue of New Hampshire Magazine. His practice emphasizes U.S. and foreign trademark, copyright, trade secret and electronic commerce law.

Attorney Donovan is a director of the firm and a member of its management committee. He concentrates his practice on complex commercial and intellectual property disputes, including trademark, copyright, patent, trade secret and computer software litigation, as well as shareholder and business insurance coverage disputes.

Attorney Knowlton is an associate in McLane’s Litigation Department, and focuses her practice on commercial litigation, intellectual property, and utility matters.

McLane, Graf, Raulerson & Middleton, Professional Association, is the largest law firm in New Hampshire. The firm serves a wide range of domestic and international clients form offices in Manchester, Portsmouth, Concord, and Nashua, NH.

For more information on the Firm’s Intellectual Property Group, you may contact Attorney Wright at 603.628.1311, or by e-mail at Attorney Tom Donovan may be reached at 628.1337, or by e-mail at To contact Attorney Sarah Knowlton, dial 334.6928 or e-mail her at