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Saint Xavier University v. Rocco Mossuto: The Fight over the Baseball Team Twitter Account

On September 3, 2020, Saint Xavier University (“University”) filed suit against Rocco Mossuto (“Coach”) in the United States District Court for the Norther District of Illinois claiming that Coach took sole possession of the University’s baseball team Twitter account and changed all of the account’s login information prohibiting University from accessing and maintaining the account.. From 2014 to June 2020, Coach was University’s head baseball coach. After Coach’s termination, Coach continued to use the University’s baseball team Twitter account and is alleged to have disparaged University. University claims Coach’s tweets damaged University’s “reputation, fundraising efforts, and ability to recruit students.” Ultimately, Coach returned control of the University’s baseball team Twitter account to University, but created a new Twitter account with a similar handle. University argued that Coach’s use of a Twitter account with a similar name is confusing to the public.

University set forth two claims against Coach: 1) trademark infringement in accordance with Section 1125(a) of the Lanham Act and 2) conversion. University claims Coach is “using the marks [University], SXU_Baseball, and the Infringing Cougar Avatar…to disseminate disparaging and false communications about [University]….” University further claims Coach “is knowingly and intentionally using in commerce terms, symbols, and false designations of origin in a manner that is likely to cause confusion or mistake, or to deceive consumers as to an affiliation, connection, or association with [University]” and, thus, the use of marks created a likelihood of confusion among consumers. Additionally, University claims that Coach “wrongfully took possession” of the University’s baseball team Twitter account causing “great financial harm”. University seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief prohibiting Coach from using any marks associated with the University and to immediately deliver all login information to the subsequent and similar Twitter account created by Coach.

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