Video: ATT prepared to thumb nose at NASCAR UPDATE #3 NASCAR expects the AT&T logos to be removed from the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing car for the Nextel Cup events this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a mandate Tuesday that its decision to be followed that NASCAR is not legally required to allow the AT&T logos on the Jeff Burton car, NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said Tuesday night.
The appellate court also clarified its Aug. 13 ruling that the logo issue return to U.S. District Court in Atlanta for consideration of other legal issues other than breach of contract, Poston said.
AT&T had won the injunction on breach-of-contract grounds as U.S. District Court Judge Marvin Shoob ruled May 18 that NASCAR's grandfather clause in its licensing agreement that gives RCR a car number 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 they cannot. Scenedaily.com08/18/07 AT&T is still reviewing its options in wake of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals' overturning an injunction Monday that had allowed the AT&T logo to replace the Cingular logos on the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing car.
One of those options includes seeking another injunction on grounds other than breach of contract.
In a filing Friday to preview a status conference in the case in U.S. District Court, AT&T stated that it has until Monday to request a rehearing.
"We have not yet made a final decision regarding whether we will file a petition for rehearing, and, if so, what the petition will contain," AT&T's attorneys wrote in the brief.
AT&T is considering filing a broad request for a rehearing, a more narrow request or not asking for a rehearing at all.
If it files a narrow petition or does nothing, AT&T indicated in court documents filed Friday that it would request Monday that the district court consider an injunction under promissory estoppel - the legal theory that would rule that AT&T had reasonable expectations to believe that it could change the logos and it is an injustice to AT&T that it can't. Scenedaily.com
Jeff Burton will not be on the market any time soon, even if the NASCAR/AT&T legal wrangling doesn't fall AT&T's way, car owner Richard Childress said Friday at Michigan International Speedway. Burton signed a contract to drive for Richard Childress Racing in June, with AT&T signing on as sponsor. But that was before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an injunction that had allowed AT&T logos on the No. 31 Chevrolet in place of Cingular signage.
"We've got contracts with AT&T and Jeff Burton," Childress said.
That means Burton isn't going anywhere, Childress indicated.
Childress did not want to comment on the NASCAR/AT&T situation "because it's still in the legal system," he said.
"We hope we can come to some kind of agreement we can all live with," Childress said.
Should there be further trouble for AT&T, it could affect RCR's plans for a fourth team in 2008, though Childress was confident the fourth team would go on as planned. Scenedaily.com08/16/07 AT&T plans to have its logos on the No. 31 Nextel Cup car for Richard Childress Racing this weekend at Michigan International Speedway.
Although the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an injunction permitting the logos, AT&T still has time to request a reconsideration of the ruling, and until that process is over, it can keep the logos on the car. AT&T is expected to ask for the reconsideration Friday.
"This weekend, we will be running the car with the AT&T brand," AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel said late Thursday afternoon while declining to discuss the company's legal strategy. "The legal process is moving along. I can't predict what will happen after [this weekend].
NASCAR had requested that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issue a mandate that AT&T comply with the ruling while the reconsideration process unfolds. The court has declined that request, NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said Thursday evening.
"It was and continues to be our hope that AT&T would comply fully with the 11th Circuit Court's ruling, and it appears that they're not willing to do that at this time," Poston said.
"We respect the decision the court has made, and we're looking at a variety of options."
AT&T has argued that NASCAR's grandfather clause for telecommunications sponsors, enacted in 2004 when Nextel became the series sponsor, allows it to change the logos from Cingular to AT&T on the Jeff Burton car. Scenedaily.com 08/15/07
While drivers and pit crews check their cars’ engines and tires before Sunday’s NASCAR event in Michigan, Jeff Burton and his team may be waiting for another new paint job to dry on their No. 31 car. To right NASCAR's Jim Hunter talks about how happy they are to have beat AT&T in the appeals court
Or maybe not.
Even though a federal appeals court Monday ruled against AT&T’s claim that it can put its logo on Burton’s car, a company spokesman said Tuesday that AT&T expects its paint scheme to remain on Burton’s car this weekend.
As for the next steps in court, AT&T spokesman Mark A. Siegel said, “We are currently looking at all our legal options.”
Monday’s ruling vacated a federal judge’s May decision that stopped NASCAR from interfering with AT&T putting its logo and brand on Burton’s car. zzzz
One of NASCAR’s winning lawyers, Richard L. Robbins of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, said he hopes AT&T won’t pursue further legal action. “Obviously, one issue is what happens with the race this weekend,” said Robbins, “and our hope is that AT&T decides to honor the 11th Circuit opinion.”
Admittedly caught in the middle is the car’s owner, Richard Childress Racing, or RCR.
“I don’t want to say what will happen Sunday,” demurred Winston-Salem, N.C., lawyer W. Andrew Copenhaver of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, which represents RCR.
AT&T’s bid to maneuver around a largely exclusive telecommunications sponsorship deal between Sprint Nextel and NASCAR hit the wall Monday. A panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that AT&T doesn’t have standing to sue because the basis of its suit is a contract between NASCAR and RCR that doesn’t give AT&T any legal rights. DailyReporterOnline.com