Court papers confirm AT&T-NASCAR settlement: NASCAR, AT&T and Sprint have filed paperwork in U.S. District Court in Atlanta confirming they have settled the lawsuit over logos on the #31 Richard Childress Racing car. All sides announced Sept. 8 that a settlement had been reached, allowing the AT&T logos on the Jeff Burton car through the end of the 2008 season. AT&T, which had a deal to sponsor Burton through 2010, cannot sponsor a Cup car beyond 2008. The paperwork was filed with the court Sept. 14. No terms were part of the filing, although it indicated that each side would pay its own costs and attorney fees.(SceneDaily.com)(9-17-2007)
AT&T logos back on the #31 Chevy UPDATE 2 lawsuit settled: on SPEED's NASCAR Live Friday, Bob Dilner reported and it was shown at Richmond International Raceway, the AT&T decals are back on the #31 Chevy that Jeff Burton driver for Richard Childress Racing, no word on details...yet. UPDATE: AT&T, NASCAR and Sprint apparently have settled the lawsuit involving the primary sponsorship logos on the #31 Richard Childress Racing Chevy. With NASCAR approval, the AT&T logos were being put on the car of Jeff Burton on Friday afternoon at Richmond International Raceway. Details of the settlement were not immediately released.(SceneDaily.com) UPDATE 2: NASCAR, Sprint Nextel, AT&T and Richard Childress Racing have agreed to end the legal dispute over branding of the #31 car. The agreement immediately permits AT&T to continue as primary sponsor of the #31 car, using the AT&T name and logos, through the 2008 season. “This agreement represents compromise from all sides that ultimately serves the sport well,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. “No one likes litigation, most of all the NASCAR fans, and it was time to find a mutually agreeable resolution. We’re now happy to move forward with the exciting conclusion of the season as we approach the Chase for the Nextel Cup.”
“This is a great solution for NASCAR, the fans, Richard Childress Racing and Sprint Nextel,” said Tim Kelly, chief marketing officer for Sprint. “We accomplished our ultimate goal of protecting our unique position with NASCAR while giving the #31 team ample time to transition to a new sponsor. We will continue to focus on bringing new and unique innovations to NASCAR fans for the betterment of the sport.”
“We’re very pleased to have the AT&T logos back on the #31 Chevrolet and to have AT&T continue as a primary sponsor for Jeff Burton and Richard Childress Racing,” said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. “We’re excited to have AT&T back on the car for Richmond and that they will continue to be a big part of what we do,” said Jeff Burton, driver, RCR’s #31 AT&T Chevrolet. “Now we can move forward and concentrate on winning races and competing for the championship.”
“This agreement is the right step taken at the right time. It provides a clear path forward for the sport and its fans, for Richard Childress Racing and Jeff Burton, and for AT&T, which can use its brand on the #31 Car,” said Dave Garver, executive director of business development and wireless sponsorships for AT&T’s wireless unit.(NASCAR PR) AND Garver said at the end of 2008, AT&T must leave the Cup Series. He said the telecommunications company could stay in the sport in a lower series.(Associated Press)(9-7-2007)
AT&T, NASCAR return to court on Sept. 18: The AT&T-NASCAR-Sprint legal saga is scheduled to continue Sept. 18 in U.S. District Court in Atlanta. Judge Marvin Shoob, who awarded AT&T an injunction May 18 to allow AT&T's logos on the #31 Richard Childress Racing Chevy driven by Jeff Burton, is scheduled to preside over another injunction hearing. The U.S. Court of Appeals overturned his original injunction Aug. 13, and now AT&T is returning to the district court level in hopes of obtaining another injunction. AT&T is now asking for the injunction under the legal theory that would conclude that AT&T had reasonable expectations to believe that it could change the logos and that it is an injustice to AT&T that it can't. The injunction phase is still separate from the trial phase of the case, where AT&T is suing for the permanent ability to display the logos while NASCAR has countersued AT&T for $100 million. No trial schedule has been set.(in part from SceneDaily.com)(8-30-2007)
Childress has no plans for legal action against NASCAR: Richard Childress, in his first public reaction to lawsuit proceedings between NASCAR and AT&T, told ESPN.com Saturday that he has no current plans to take personal legal action against NASCAR in an effort to retain AT&T as sponsor of his #31 Chevy. "I don't really have any plans to do that right now," said Childress, owner of three Nextel Cup Series teams. The #31 showed up this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway devoid of sponsor logos, and driver Jeff Burton has only small associate sponsor logos on his driving suit. AT&T claims NASCAR left them no choice but to bring a blank car. They said NASCAR would not okay alternate paint schemes submitted for approval following the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision to overrule a temporary injunction that allowed AT&T logos under NASCAR's grandfather clause for telecommunication sponsors. Childress hopes cooler heads can prevail and a resolution can be reached between NASCAR and AT&T that would enable him to retain AT&T as a sponsor. He said all four parties -- NASCAR, Sprint, RCR and AT&T -- share responsibility in making that happen. "There's got to be some give and take," he said. "You sit back and look -- at the end of the day it has to be a case of Sprint and AT&T trying to figure a way that they can both live in the same world." He feels they've already proven it can happen.
"Let me give you an example: AT&T has been on the car for 14 weeks, and all the media [attention] has been on the Chase. That's Sprint's deal. They're getting plenty of value out of the Chase," he said. "And AT&T is over here marketing Jeff Burton. The world didn't stop when we put it on the car the first week. There's room for all of us. It isn't like AT&T bought Cingular. They owned Cingular anyway. They're just re-branding it. To find a way where all of us can survive in this world it would be good for RCR, good for the sport." Childress wouldn't specify how this development affects his company financially, but did stress that RCR is financially stable. "The main thing is you want to keep a company in the sport like AT&T," he said. "They're really good for the whole sport -- not just for RCR and Jeff Burton. The activation dollars they spend with the media and television -- they spend more in media than they do with us." (see full article at ESPN.com)(8-25-2007)
AT&T vs NASCAR: info on the latest in the AT&T and NASCAR lawsuit and injuctions....since both are long and full of many details, here are the links:
NASCAR is losing its patience in the court battle with AT&T. Spokesman Ramsey Poston said Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway that AT&T "has been dishonest with the fans and with NASCAR, and it's time for that to stop." Poston's comment was in response to a claim in AT&T's most recent motion that NASCAR rejected proposed paint schemes featuring AT&T's "Go Phone" on the hood of Jeff Burton's car. See full story at: NASCAR losing patience with AT&T court battle by Marty Smith of ESPN.com
As expected, AT&T has asked U.S. District Court Judge Marvin Shoob to issue another injunction to allow its logos on the #31 Richard Childress Racing Chevy [of Jeff Burton]. The motion was filed in the Atlanta court Friday afternoon. A hearing isn't expected until the week of Sept. 10 at the earliest. Full story at: AT&T asks judge for injunction, right to use logos by Bob Pockrass of Scenedaily.com.
Latest on AT&T- NASCAR UPDATE no decals: NASCAR has rejected proposed paint schemes featuring AT&T's "Go Phone" and the AT&T Mobility tagline "More Bars in More Places" as AT&T seeks a way to remain on the #31 Richard Childress Racing Chevy, according to AT&T. AT&T, in a motion filed today in U.S. District Court asking the court to expedite another preliminary injunction hearing, called NASCAR's actions "unreasonable and vindictive" and indicated that its Go Phone scheme was similar to one used in May 2005. "NASCAR insisted that not only must AT&T Mobility remove the 'AT&T' name and logo immediately, but also that AT&T Mobility feature the very name, 'Cingular,' that AT&T Mobility has spent millions of dollars removing from the marketplace," AT&T states in its motion. AT&T had won an 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 U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals 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. AT&T said it attempted to compromise this week by not including the AT&T globe and the Cingular name on its Go Phone scheme but that NASCAR rejected it Wednesday because the Cingular logo was too small. The actual motion for a new preliminary injunction will be filed Friday in Shoob's court, AT&T indicated in its filing Thursday. "NASCAR has approved multiple paint schemes for the 31 including a Cingular Go Phone scheme," NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said. "The 31 has many, many options from which to choose. This is about living up to the agreements that were made.AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel said AT&T is still unsure of what paint scheme will be used for the race Saturday night at Bristol.(SceneDaily.com)(8-23-2007) UPDATE #31 is decal-less at Bristol: Burton rolled onto Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday in his orange and black #31 Chevy without the AT&T globe or any mention of the telecommunications company on the car. The car arrived in a black hauler with only the #31 on the side and crew members wore gray RCR shirts instead of uniforms with the AT&T logo. Burton wore an orange driver's suit adorned only by only associate sponsors. NASCAR banned AT&T from being on the car after winning a recent appeal that overturned a previous decision that has allowed RCR to use the AT&T globe since May 19. Officials said the car would not have been allowed through inspection or onto the track with the logo.
NASCAR and AT&T have been in a legal dispute since March when AT&T and Cingular, which was on Burton's car, merged. NASCAR argued that its agreement with series sponsor Sprint Nextel disallowed the change of sponsor name on the car. The issue is far from over. AT&T will file an injunction today asking for a court hearing in early September. RCR officials said they are considering their options for future races.(ESPN.com)(8-24-2007)
AT&T logos on the #31 at MIS UPDATE 2: AT&T plans to have its logos on the #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]."(SceneDaily.com)(8-17-2007) UPDATE: With the AT&T paint scheme still on the #31 Chevy, Jeff Burton went out for the first practice session Friday and blew an engine. AT&T officials followed their legal option Friday of asking the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider the ruling from earlier this week. The court sided with NASCAR and threw out a lower court ruling that allowed the AT&T logo on the car. Cingular, which was the primary sponsor for Burton, merged with AT&T and eliminated the Cingular brand. NASCAR officials said Richard Childress Racing could not change the logos on the #31 because of exclusivity rights for Cup series title sponsor Nextel. The latest ruling puts the sponsorship situation on Burton's car uncertain for the future. If the appeals court refuses to reconsider it's ruling, as expected, AT&T probably won't be on Burton's car next weekend at Bristol.(ESPN.com)(8-17-2007) UPDATE 2: AT&T has asked the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to clarify its ruling from last week in overturning an injunction that had allowed the AT&T logos on the #31 Richard Childress Racing car. Part of the Aug. 13 ruling indicates that the entire case should be dismissed, and AT&T is asking for clarification on whether the entire case should be dismissed or whether only the portion of the case that deals with breach of contract be dismissed. The AT&T logos likely will remain on the #31 car driven by Jeff Burton at least until the Court of Appeals rules on the clarification.(SceneDaily.com)(8-21-2007)
NASCAR wins in appeals court vs. AT&T: NASCAR won a major court decision Monday as the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals overruled a temporary injunction issued by a district court judge that had allowed AT&T logos to be placed on the #31 Richard Childress Racing car under NASCAR's grandfather clause for telecommunication sponsors.
"Because Cingular [now AT&T Mobility] was neither a party to nor an intended beneficiary of the [grandfather clause], it has not itself suffered a legally cognizable injury as a result of NASCAR's interpretation," the three-judge panel wrote in its unanimous decision to overturn the May 18 decision of U.S. District Court Judge Marvin Shoob. The decision by the Atlanta-based court could result in removal of the AT&T logos from the #31 Chevy driven by Jeff Burton as soon as the Aug. 17-19 race weekend at Michigan International Speedway. AT&T still has the option of asking the court to reconsider. "Obviously we're pleased," NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said. "This is good news for every driver and team in the sport, which benefits from our exclusive relationships. As we've always said, there are three key sponsors that benefit everyone in the industry - the tire manufacturer, the fuel supplier and the [series] title sponsors. This decision confirms those relationships." NASCAR, citing its exclusivity agreement with Sprint Nextel for the sponsorship of its premier series, had barred AT&T from using its logos to replace Cingular on the RCR car. AT&T and Cingular merged in December 2006. AT&T went to court, arguing that NASCAR's grandfather clause (which went into effect in 2004 when Nextel signed a 10-year deal to replace Winston as the Cup Series sponsor) in its annual contract with RCR did not preclude the change in logos.
The appeals court ruled that NASCAR did not intend for AT&T Mobility to benefit, and therefore couldn't be a third-party beneficiary to the NASCAR-RCR agreement, which included the grandfather clause in an addendum. Because RCR was not required to renew its relationships with Cingular, AT&T did not have a legal right for its logos to be put on the car, the court ruled. "The Addendum to the RCR Agreement was intended to protect RCR from the potential harm caused by a sudden loss of sponsorship due to Sprint Nextel's exclusivity," the three-judge panel wrote. "Any benefit to Cingular (now AT&T Mobility) resulting from NASCAR's commitment to grant RCR the option to continue and renew its sponsorship agreement was merely incidental to NASCAR's intended purpose of preserving RCR's choice of sponsorship." The decision likely ends the injunction phase of the case. The case, which includes a $100 million countersuit by NASCAR against AT&T, still is scheduled to go to trial.(SceneDaily.com)(8-13-2007)
NASCAR Counter Sues AT&T for $100 Million: Today NASCAR filed a counter claim in U.S. District Court against AT&T Mobility/Cingular Wireless and AT&T Inc., alleging breach of contract, fraud and misrepresentation, and conspiracy to aid and abet wrongful interference with Nextel’s exclusive sponsorship agreement. NASCAR is seeking a minimum of $100 million in damages. The NASCAR Rule Book governs participation in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series and its contents are agreed to in writing by all NASCAR members and participants. Cingular is a member of NASCAR and agreed to abide by all NASCAR rules and regulations when its representatives signed official documents such as the NASCAR Membership and License Application. NASCAR’s suit further alleges that AT&T, Cingular and its representatives breached its explicit agreements with NASCAR when they re-branded the #31 car; entered into contract with RCR knowing that they would litigate against NASCAR; and when they sought to ambush Nextel’s exclusive sponsorship rights. NASCAR also submitted its response today to a suit filed by AT&T Mobility/Cingular Wireless by soundly rejecting each of their claims. The response demonstrates the clarity of NASCAR’s rule book and the baseless allegations made by AT&T Mobility/Cingular Wireless in its attempts to re-brand the #31.(NASCAR PR)(6-17-2007)
AT&T suit could have Alltel rethinking its plans: The court ruling that allowed AT&T to rebrand the #31 Richard Childress Racing Chevy has Alltel thinking about challenging the restrictions placed on its NASCAR team sponsorship. Until now, Alltel has abided by a set of rules that aren't specifically written into its deal with Penske Racing, and many of those rules restrict Alltel from activating its deal the way other sponsors do. Because it is a wireless company that competes directly against Sprint Nextel, which spends close to $100 million a year to be NASCAR's top series sponsor, Alltel can't set up interactive displays, it can't title sponsor a race, it can't do any more than put its mark on driver Ryan Newman, the car, the pit crew and a single merchandise trailer. And like Cingular, Alltel has always been told that it can't change its name if ever acquired by another company. But these prohibitions could be subject to debate after a judge's ruling on May 18 that allowed Cingular's #31 car to carry AT&T sponsorship. Sprint Nextel has said that the ruling diminishes its exclusivity in the sport. U.S. District Court Judge Marvin Shoob granted AT&T a temporary injunction to put its blue globe on the #31 car because, in part, NASCAR's restrictions weren't specifically outlined in Cingular's team contract with Richard Childress Racing.
Alltel's restrictions are likewise vaguely referenced in its contract with Penske, said Samira Zebian, Alltel's director of sponsorship marketing. "Could this allow us to leverage the race track and other platforms that have been off-limits to us?" Zebian asked. "What has been conjecture in the past now must be formalized. We've always been very respectful of Nextel's rights, but we need a better understanding of how far-reaching those rights are. What the suit brings to light is that a league deal shouldn't impact our category so negatively that we can't put our product in front of the fans the way every other team sponsor can." Alltel has no plans to challenge NASCAR legally, Zebian said, but "it does force a conversation" about Alltel's activation rights.
NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said the case could prompt NASCAR to review the way its team contracts are written. The governing body has purposely kept the wording in the contracts as neutral as possible to maintain flexibility with the teams and sponsors, he said, but that flexibility could be lost in future contracts. NASCAR likely will be much more specific in its wording on any sponsor restrictions.
Once the AT&T trial concludes, though, the issue still might not be settled. Alltel was recently acquired by TPG Capital and GS Capital Partners and while the name is expected to remain the same, some analysts believe Alltel remains a target for one of the larger wireless companies.(SportsBusiness Journal/SceneDaily.com)(5-30-2007)
NASCAR makes case against AT&T in appeal brief: NASCAR says a federal judge erred in his interpretation of NASCAR's annual contract with teams and drivers - and in doing so is harming the sanctioning body and primary sponsor Nextel in the process.
In its appeal brief challenging Judge Marvin H. Shoob's injunction allowing the switch from Cingular to AT&T logos on the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing car, NASCAR says "Nextel faces a potentially unlimited amount of NASCAR promotion from its major competitor." Shoob issued the injunction May 18, and NASCAR and Sprint Nextel have appealed the decision. The appeal hearing is set for Aug. 2, but NASCAR is asking for that to be held earlier partly because of the impact on exclusivity in the sport. NASCAR also argues that AT&T is spending $10 million on brand transition messaging on race telecasts and doesn't need an injunction for logos on the car to get its transition message heard by NASCAR fans.(more at SceneDaily.com)(5-27-2007)
AT&T, NASCAR hearing over injunction set for Aug. 2: The U.S. Court of Appeals hearing over the injunction allowing the use of the AT&T logos on the #31 Richard Childress Racing car is scheduled for Aug. 2 in Atlanta, but NASCAR would like the schedule moved up, a spokesman says. NASCAR has filed its appeal briefs and has asked the court for a hearing as soon as possible, NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said Friday. "We filed our briefs well in advance of the deadlines," Poston said. "This is an important case and certainly would like the court's consideration to further expedite the hearing." U.S. District Court Judge Marvin Shoob ruled May 18 that NASCAR couldn't prohibit RCR from switching the Cingular logos to the AT&T logos on the car driven by Jeff Burton. NASCAR wants to prohibit the logos as part of its exclusivity agreement with series sponsor Sprint Nextel. In issuing the injunction, the judge ruled that the licensing agreement and grandfather clause that RCR signed with NASCAR does not prohibit the change in logos.SceneDaily.com)(5-26-2007)
Nextel joins NASCAR in AT&T lawsuit: NASCAR Nextel Cup series sponsor Sprint Nextel has joined the legal battle on NASCAR’s side, as it hopes to have the AT&T decision overturned on appeal. “In response to the ruling by the court, we have formally filed to join this proceeding,” said the company’s director of NASCAR Nextel Cup Series marketing, Dean Kessel, in a statement issued Saturday. “We intend to vigorously protect our sponsorship from these unfounded claims of AT&T. This weekend is for celebrating NASCAR’s best and the best fans in the sport.”(SPEEDtv.com)(5-20-2007)
Judge: Let AT&T into NASCAR logo race UPDATE 3 NASCAR denied, AT&T at All-Star race: A federal judge on Friday ruled that AT&T can replace a Cingular logo with its own on a NASCAR race car, following its absorption of the Atlanta-based wireless company. The decision marks an important victory for AT&T. The company sued NASCAR in March, alleging that the racing organization improperly prevented AT&T from putting its brand on the #31 car driven by Jeff Burton.The vehicle currently is branded for the former Cingular Wireless. AT&T took control of Atlanta-based Cingular in late December and is in the process of shedding the Cingular name. NASCAR objected to AT&T's proposal for adding its logo to Burton's stock car. The racing organization cited a deal with Sprint Nextel, which holds the title sponsorship for NASCAR's top racing series. NASCAR said its agreements with Sprint Nextel prohibit the addition of other telecommunications companies as sponsors. Judge Marvin Shoob, of the U.S. District Court in Atlanta, ruled that AT&T would be likely to win the case. He agreed with AT&T's argument that a change in brands is allowed under a grandfather clause that was put in place to protect Cingular, despite Sprint Nextel's deal with NASCAR.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution) UPDATE: been told the AT&T-branded car is scheduled to make its debut tomorrow at the All-Star Challenge race in Charlotte, NC., see an image of the new scheme on my #31 Team Schemes page. NASCAR Statement Regarding Today’s Court Decision: NASCAR is disappointed with today’s ruling but will continue to provide a sponsor friendly environment for the industry and its partners. NASCAR is currently weighing any and all options for appeal of today’s decision. Meanwhile, NASCAR will continue to protect the industry from actions designed to interrupt a business model which has been beneficial to all. It is important to understand that Sprint Nextel is a cornerstone sponsor that benefits the entire industry by way of its contribution to the championship point’s fund, technology bringing fans closer to the sport, and its massive marketing and advertising campaigns.(NASCAR PR) UPDATE 2: NASCAR has requested and has been granted a hearing by Judge Marvin H. Shoob to stay today’s decision. The hearing will be held at 11:30am/et tomorrow morning, May 19, 2007. If the judge grants the stay, then the #31 car will remain with its current branding. If NASCAR’s request is denied, then NASCAR will seek an emergency stay from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday morning. Today’s ruling is limited to the facts of this particular case and does not have broad implications. NASCAR will continue to provide a sponsor friendly environment for the industry and its partners and will protect the industry from actions designed to interrupt a business model which has been beneficial to all. It is important to understand that Sprint Nextel is a cornerstone sponsor that benefits the entire industry by way of its contribution to the championship point’s fund, technology bringing fans closer to the sport, and its massive marketing and advertising campaigns.(NASCAR PR)(5-18-2007) UPDATE 3 - NASCAR denied: A federal judge again refused to grant NASCAR's request for a stay to prevent Jeff Burton's No. 31 car from racing Saturday with the AT&T logo. The ruling, made Saturday just hours before the Nextel All-Star Challenge in Concord, N.C., was the second in two days from U.S. District Judge Marvin Shoob. On Friday, Shoob issued a preliminary injunction barring NASCAR from stopping AT&T Inc. from placing its brand on Burton's Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Following the second denial for a stay, NASCAR filed an emergency appeal with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. "We don't know when that will heard," said Ramsey Poston, NASCAR's managing director of corporate communications. "Our expectation going in is that it probably wouldn't be heard until next week." Shoob's decision to deny NASCAR's request followed a private hearing.(AP/ESPN.com)(5-19-2007)
AT&T suit hinges on unwritten agreements: AT&T Mobility's case against NASCAR regarding the branding of the #31 car owned by Richard Childress and driven by Jeff Burton hinges on a meeting with representatives of the sport's governing body in June 2003, during which "promises" were made by NASCAR. NASCAR, however, dismissed the "alleged" promises and introduced compelling testimony by a former Cingular employee designated as the "point person" for the sponsoring of the car, in a 94-page filing in U.S. District Court. The document filing was made Monday in Atlanta. AT&T and NASCAR have been in court since April 26 for an injunction that would allow AT&T, which merged with Cingular last December and is phasing out the Cingular brand, to put its logos on the car. A decision is expected from Judge Marvin H. Shoob by the end of this week or early next week. The sponsorship contract with Richard Childress Racing runs out at the end of the season, and based on court documents, RCR and AT&T are not currently negotiating a renewal. According to AT&T Mobility's 40-page filing, the two sides met on June 26, 2003 -- a meeting in response to a letter sent by NASCAR to all team owners indicating that beginning in 2004 when Nextel became the exclusive series sponsor for an approximate $700 million investment, all Nextel competitors would be prohibited as sponsors. During that meeting, Cingular was informed it would be grandfathered in as a sponsor but the company could not increase its brand position on the car and it could not move sponsorship to another team. Cingular representatives were not given anything in writing from NASCAR, according to court documents. NASCAR officials simply told them, "Trust us." NASCAR's position, however, is that no promises were made and that it made clear the limitations on Cingular to feature other telecommunication brands.(more at ESPN.com)(5-9-2007)
NASCAR Statement Regarding Its Day In Court: NASCAR presented its case to the court today [about allowing AT&T to sponsor the #31 car] and we eagerly await a decision. NASCAR is defending every driver, team and track involved with NASCAR. The court’s ruling will be important to protect the very flexible and open environment that allows for hundreds of sponsors to successfully participate in NASCAR. It’s important to remember that Sprint Nextel is a cornerstone sponsor that benefits the entire industry by way of its contribution to the championship points fund, technology bringing fans closer to the sport and its massive marketing and advertising campaigns. NASCAR will continue to protect the industry in any future attacks on our key partners.(NASCAR PR) AND Jeff Burton's #31 Richard Childress Racing Chevy will bear the familiar Cingular markings for at least two more weeks. There was no decision Thursday on AT&T's request for an injunction to have its logos placed on Burton's car. Instead, U.S. District court judge Marvin H. Schoob listened to almost four hours of arguments from NASCAR, AT&T and Nextel and then set May 7 as the deadline for briefs to be submitted in the case. At Thursday's preliminary injunction hearing, NASCAR attorneys defended the decision to prevent Cingular - the primary sponsor of the #31 car - from changing its branding on the car to the AT&T blue globe. Cingular merged with AT&T in December, and AT&T is phasing out the Cingular brand. Cingular is arguing that its rights include changing its brand name to AT&T.
"We have changed our name, but we are the same company as we were before we changed our name," said David Balser, attorney for AT&T Inc.(Associated Press)(4-27-2007)
AT&T-NASCAR hearing set for April 26: The preliminary injunction hearing in the AT&T vs. NASCAR lawsuit over the sponsorship of the #31 Richard Childress Racing Nextel Cup Chevy driven by Jeff Burton will be April 26 in U.S. District Court in Atlanta.
NASCAR had asked the court to delay the injunction hearing, but U.S. District court Senior Judge Marvin H. Shoob denied the request Thursday. AT&T is seeking an injunction to put its logos on Burton's car. NASCAR has forbidden the AT&T logos because of its agreement with Nextel to sponsor NASCAR's premier series. Cingular, which is Burton's current sponsor, merged with AT&T in December, and AT&T is phasing out the Cingular name. Cingular had been grandfathered in as a sponsor when the Nextel-NASCAR contract was signed in 2003.(SceneDaily.com)(4-12-2007)
AT&T Lawsuit could be resolved by end of April: AT&T's lawsuit against NASCAR, in which it asks for an injunction to allow it to rebadge Jeff Burton's #31 car from Cingular-orange to AT&T blue this spring, may have quick resolution, perhaps even as soon as the end of this month, according to sources close to the situation. However, Sprint Nextel officials continue to have nothing to say about the issue, even though it is directly related to their series sponsorship contract with NASCAR, a $70 million a year sponsorship in its fourth year of a 10-year pact.(Winston Salem Journal)(4-2-2007)
Cingular/AT&T/NASCAR update: With no court date set for Friday, employees of Richard Childress Racing didn't even bother to pack the forbidden AT&T logos for the #31 Chevy. AT&T filed a lawsuit on March 16 and sought an immediate injunction earlier this week to allow the logos to appear on the #31 driven by Jeff Burton. NASCAR has so far refused the change, citing its contract with the series' title sponsor, Nextel. Since its merger last year with BellSouth, AT&T has begun to phase out the Cingular name. It submitted a paint scheme in January to NASCAR, but it was rejected. AT&T spokesman Chris Capo told USA TODAY earlier this week crewmembers could affix the logo to the car this weekend if a federal court judge grated the injunction. He was hopeful Friday that there would be a hearing sometime before the next Cup race, scheduled for Texas Motor Speedway on April 15.(USA Today)(3-31-2007)
AT&T wants logo on Burton's car immediately UPDATE NASCAR responds: Telecommunications giant AT&T filed a motion Monday, asking that its logo be added to Jeff Burton's #31 Chevy immediately. The motion was filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, where the company also filed its lawsuit against NASCAR. A hearing on the motion has not yet been scheduled. Burton is sponsored by cell phone service provider Cingular. AT&T recently took full ownership of Cingular as part of its recent merger with BellSouth and intends to eliminate the brand name. AT&T sued NASCAR on March 16 after racing series officials refused to allow AT&T to put its logo on Burton's car because of NASCAR's deal with Nextel, which sponsors NASCAR's top series -- the Nextel Cup. "We must bring this issue to resolution," John Burbank, vice president of marketing for AT&T, said in a statement. "The season is well under way and so are our rebranding efforts. This filing is a logical next step for us in the process, and one we must pursue so that we can simply move forward with our paint scheme -- something our agreement with NASCAR allows us to do." AT&T officials acknowledge they agreed to a contract with Childress' team that contains provisions saying Cingular can't increase the size or placement of its logo on the car and can't switch its sponsorship to another team. But they say the contract does not contain language preventing a logo change if Cingular is bought out by another company. NASCAR and Nextel officials declined comment when the lawsuit was filed. The lawsuit seeks permission to make the logo switch and damages for the "substantial harm" NASCAR has caused to the company. The lawsuit calls altering the design of the #31 car an "integral part" of the company's brand name switch, and that NASCAR's refusal to allow it inhibits the company's ability to "attract new customers and retain existing ones."(AP/ESPN.com), see past news on the AT&T lawsuit and Cingular on my #31 Team Schemes page.(3-26-2007) UPDATE - NASCAR fires back: AT&T has been pressuring NASCAR with its lawsuit over how to paint the quarter panels on Jeff Burton's Nextel Cup #31 Chevy car as it rebrands Cingular under the AT&T logo. According to papers being filed in the suit, NASCAR officials told Stan Sigman, the president and CEO of Cingular, five weeks ago that in April 2005, George Pyne, NASCAR's CEO at the time, told the Richard Childress-Burton team that it would not allow a change in paint scheme or logos if Cingular was bought and had its name changed. NASCAR further said that its grandfathering of Cingular - after Nextel signed on as the series sponsor - "was tied directly to the Cingular Wireless brand and not the Cingular company." The papers further say that "it is generally not in NASCAR's interest to limit sponsors' participation in the sport." NASCAR suggested that AT&T could sponsor a Busch team or a Trucks team instead, if it wished. That is precisely the route that Verizon has taken. NASCAR's filing refers specifically to Pyne's letter to Childress, dated April 4, 2005. It specifies that "should Cingular be acquired by a third party, the Cingular brand is continually welcome as a team sponsor. However, should the company's name change, we will not allow any paint scheme or branding on the car promoting this new name."
The papers go on to say: "NASCAR certainly has no desire to eliminate the Cingular brand from NASCAR Nextel Cup series competition." But, "unfortunately AT&T's decision to purchase Cingular and then to eliminate the Cingular brand puts NASCAR in the position of having to now enforce the rights granted Nextel in the series sponsorship agreement."(in part from the Winston Salem Journal)(3-28-2007)
Burton hopes for resolution soon with AT&T suit: #31-Jeff Burton says his Richard Childress Racing team can't wait long for a resolution to its AT&T lawsuit against NASCAR. That's why he's keenly awaiting to see if AT&T will get the injunction it's asking for to be allowed to put the AT&T logos on the car in place of Cingular. AT&T and Cingular merged earlier this year, and AT&T is phasing out the Cingular brand. AT&T wants to put its logos on the #31 Nextel Cup car, but NASCAR has said that conflicts with NASCAR's sponsorship agreement with Nextel. No hearings have yet been set in AT&T's request for a temporary injunction as well as a permanent injunction for it to be allowed to remain as a Cup sponsor. NASCAR has not yet responded to the lawsuit, which was filed March 16 in U.S. District Court in Atlanta. "It can't linger," Burton said Friday. "An injunction will have a much quicker decision than a regular court case, and then it still will go to court later. ... If AT&T is told it can't come back, then we have people that we have to feed, people that have house payments and have a life they have to live and they have to be paid. We can't be caught in the position of not having sponsorship going into '08. And if AT&T raised their hand and say, 'We're going to get out and fight it later,' they might not ever be able to get back in." When NASCAR negotiated a 10-year deal with Nextel in 2003 worth an estimated, $700-$750 million, it grandfathered in Cingular but not AT&T. The Cingluar sponsorship was set to run out at the end of the year, and AT&T wants to renew but must now wait for the courts.(SceneDaily.com)(3-24-2007)
AT&T to sue NASCAR to place logos on #31 UPDATE and image: The cell-phone industry's ruthless fight has spilled over into NASCAR, and landed squarely on the hood of Jeff Burton's #31 Chevy. AT&T's wireless unit, formerly known as Cingular Wireless, planned to file a lawsuit later on Friday in Atlanta's U.S. District Court against NASCAR. The suit will center around AT&T's sponsorship on the #31 Chevrolet driven by Burton. The car has traditionally been sponsored by Cingular, with its familiar orange paint scheme. Though federal regulators approved AT&T's acquisition of BellSouth and its wireless unit Cingular on Dec. 29, NASCAR will not allow AT&T logos to appear on the #31 car because it would violate its current agreement with Sprint Nextel, which owns the naming right to NASCAR's top series. "We're filing a lawsuit to protect the right to transition from Cingular to AT&T on the #31 car," AT&T spokesperson Clay Owen said Friday afternoon. NASCAR officials were not immediately available for comment. Burton's car will continue to sport the Cingular Wireless paint scheme for this weekend's Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution)(3-16-2007) UPDATE: AT&T Inc., owner of the largest U.S. mobile phone carrier, sued NASCAR after meeting resistance to its efforts to replace the Cingular brand with the AT&T brand on the #31 Chevy car that the company sponsors. “NASCAR’s refusal is apparently a result of its fealty to Spring Nextel Corp., a wireless provider that, since 2004, has been lead sponsor of NASCAR’s ‘Cup Series,’ which is a series of NASCAR’s highest profile races,” stated AT&T in a complaint for injunctive relief. The complaint, filed in federal court in Atlanta, also seeks a declaratory ruling and damages. AT&T, which acquired the remaining 40% ownership of Cingular Wireless L.L.C. in its acquisition of BellSouth Corp. late last year, has a sponsorship agreement with Richard Childress Racing (RCR) that runs from 2005 through 2007, with an exclusive right to negotiate a renewal beyond 2007, the suit said. RCR owns the #31 car, which is driven by Jeff Burton. “NASCAR granted Sprint Nextel a lead sponsor of the Cup Series, exclusivity as the sole communications provider sponsoring NASCAR racing, and it is apparently on this basis that NASCAR refuses to permit RCR to alter the design of the #31 car,” the AT&T suit stated. Andrew Giangola, director of business communications for NASCAR, said the motorsports organization does not comment on litigation. However, Giangola pointed out that NASCAR’s contract with Sprint Nextel grandfathered both Cingular and Alltel Corp. into the competition, allowing Cingular and Alltel to participate in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series as team sponsors indefinitely as long as the firms did not change the scope of their sponsorship (beyond a team) or the actual name and brand on the race car. He said only the “Cingular” and “Alltel” brands are permitted on cars competing in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. “This has been and remains NASCAR’s position,” said Giangola. The issue is notable as Cingular and Sprint Nextel have previously battled over a variety of issues, including advertising claims.(source: rcrnews.com), see an image of the proposed Cingular/AT&T scheme on my #31 Team Schemes page.(3-20-2007)
AT&T Rolls Out Burton Blog: #31-Jeff Burton now sharing his views on this year's season in a new blog available only through the MEdia Net Racing Portal from the wireless unit of AT&T Inc. Jeff Burton, driver of the #31 Cingular Wireless Chevy and
18-time Cup Series winner, is launching the Burton Blog, a unique perspective on a variety of issues ranging from candid reviews of his
race performances to light-hearted commentary on pop culture. Cingular, now AT&T, is making the unique content available to its more than 61 million customers exclusively on its MEdia Net Racing Portal. Continuing through the end of the Cup season in November, new Burton Blog entries will be posted several times a week in the "Cingular Exclusives" section of the MEdia Net Racing Portal. Fans can participate in the Burton Blog mailbag by submitting a text message with a question to "JB31" (5-2-3-1). Burton will answer select
questions throughout the season. Other content available on the Racing Portal includes Jayski.com text alerts of news and in-race results, NASCAR.com To Go and racing-themed ringtones and wallpapers. Fans with 3G capable handsets can view weekly exclusive video insight on Burton and the #31 Chevrolet. Cingular Video features pre- and post-race video analysis from Burton and TEAM Cingular members, filmed on location at the Richard Childress Racing team shop. Customers can access the Racing Portal and the Burton Blog on their wireless handset by launching the MEdia Net option and then visiting the main Sports home page. Customers can access the Burton race reviews and previews on their 3G handsets by launching Cingular Video and visiting the Richard Childress Racing option on the main Sports page of MEdia Net. Standard MEdia Net data-usage charges and text-message charges apply.(Career Sports & Entertainment PR)(3-10-2007)
More on the Cingular Sponsorship Story: Team owner Richard Childress is still hopeful a solution can be reached that will allow him to keep his sponsor on his #31 Nextel Cup car. Cingular is the current sponsor, but that company has been bought by AT&T. The AT&T brand cannot be put on the car because of Nextel's agreement to sponsor NASCAR's premier series. Nextel grandfathered existing sponsorships for Cingular and Alltel, but its NASCAR agreement does not allow any changes. "I'm going to let that ball roll on its own, that globe roll on its own," Childress said Tuesday in reference to AT&T's logo. "I laid some plans out there, and it's up to NASCAR to make that call." NASCAR is still looking for a possible solution. "We are positive we will be able to come to an amicable relationship with those guys and look forward to 2007," said NASCAR Vice President of Operations Steve O'Donnell. "We're working with folks at Cingular and Richard Childress Racing." O'Donnell said the AT&T brand cannot be on the car. "Is there a way that we can work with Sprint [which has taken over Nextel in a merger] and figure out what might work?" O'Donnell said about the discussions. "At the end of the day, we need team sponsors." Dean Kessel, who handles the Nextel Cup marketing program for Sprint, said he has not been involved in any discussions, leaving it up to NASCAR and RCR to figure out if there is a solution. "Paint schemes have to be approved, and [NASCAR officials] are charged with protecting our rights," Kessel said. The issue is not new. The team has been aware of the situation since the Cingular-AT&T merger was first discussed nearly a year ago. Childress called Nextel a great series sponsor, and the negotiations continue. "I'm going to leave all of that up to those guys to work that out," Childress said. "We're just going to try to win some races this year with Cingular Wireless. [NASCAR] controls the paint schemes and stuff like that. Right now, we're working through any details on that." Kessel said he didn't think the new iPhone, a product of Cingular and Apple, could be on the car.(SceneDaily.com)(1-24-2007) MORE: Dean Kessel, director of NASCAR Nextel Cup Series marketing for Sprint Nextel, said it is written in Nextel's contract that they can only have one name change . In other words, they can only change their name from the Nextel Cup Series once. But it's also written that if Cingular and Alltel want to sponsor cars while Nextel is the title sponsor, they can, but they can't make a name change. Kessel was very adamant about not altering his feelings on that point.(Larry McReynolds/FoxSports)(1-24-2007)
Cingular / AT&T hope to stay as #31 sponsor: #31-Jeff Burton said sponsor Cingular would like to stay in the sport and is looking at ways to remain a car sponsor while changing its name to AT&T. When Nextel signed the title sponsorship for NASCAR's premier series in June 2003, it grandfathered in Cingular and Alltel as team sponsors. It prohibited other telecommunication companies from becoming team sponsors and prohibited any moves by Cingular and Alltel to other teams or, in case of a merger or name change, to a new brand. With Cingular's merger with AT&T and the Cingular name being phased out, the sponsorship of the #31 Richard Childress Racing team and Burton is up in the air because AT&T cannot be branded on the car. Cingular is in its final year of its deal with RCR. "I can tell you that Cingular is extremely excited about their involvement with AT&T," Burton said Monday. "I can tell you that they're extremely excited about being involved in this sport. They love their sponsorship opportunity and they're going to do everything in their power to continue it. It's an interesting situation to be in, and time will tell exactly what happens. But from a marketing standpoint, it certainly is going to require some creativity and it's going to require some interesting strategies. But they're committed to doing what it takes to make it work, and I'm confident that they will."(SceneDaily.com)(1-16-2007)
Cingular name going away? UPDATE yes: The largest wireless service provider in the United States, Cingular Wireless, will soon undergo a name change. This carrier had been jointly owned by AT&T and BellSouth, but last week AT&T finally got Federal permission to acquire BellSouth. As the sole owner of Cingular, AT&T has said in the past that it intends to change the carrier's name to "AT&T Wireless". The re-branding is expected to happen over the next several months. This wireless service provider's headquarters will remain in Atlanta.(cdrinfo.com) MORE: Cingular's sponsorship contract with Richard Childress Racing expires at the end of the 2007 season, but the Cingular name will expire before then, leaving the branding of the #31 car driven by Jeff Burton up in the air, according to a story in this week's NASCAR Scene. With the Bell South-AT&T merger approved Dec. 29, AT&T has announced that it is phasing out the Cingular name and replacing it with AT&T. That's a problem for RCR's #31 team because it cannot change the name on the hood of the car. When Nextel became NASCAR's top series sponsor in 2004, the sponsorship agreement grandfathered in existing team-sponsor telecommunications relationships, but it does not permit any changes. Sprint Nextel's Dean Kessel confirmed that remains the group's position Jan. 3. Cingular spokesman Clay Owen would not speculate about the future of the sponsorship. "We look forward to the start of the 2007 NASCAR season with Jeff Burton behind the wheel of the #31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet," Owen said in a statement Jan. 5. "It's an exciting time as we begin the early planning stages of transitioning our brand into the AT&T family." Kessel said there is no wiggle room to allow a change. "We grandfathered in the companies that were involved in the sport, and that was our take," he said. "We're not looking to renegotiate anything." Part of the Bell South-AT&T merger includes yellowpages.com. Kessel said Sprint hadn't investigated whether that would be permissible as a possible replacement for the team. Cingular could still sponsor a car in the Busch Series or Craftsman Truck Series.(SceneDaily.com)(1-10-2007) UPDATE: AT&T Inc. will begin next week to extinguish the brand of cellphone operator Cingular to imprint its more-than-century-old name firmly across its services. AT&T (Charts), which took full control of No. 1 U.S. mobile carrier Cingular with its $86 billion purchase of BellSouth Corp. last month, will launch a campaign Monday to mark the change. In its first stage, Cingular will share its orange logo of a bouncing jack with the AT&T globe logo on everything from television ads to sales uniforms and monthly bills. AT&T's name and logo will eventually replace Cingular in a process expected to take several months, with the exact timing determined as more customer feedback comes in, Wendy Clark, vice president of advertising at AT&T, said. One new ad will portray a familiar Cingular image - grain harvesters mowing a field to represent "bars" showing maximum cellphone reception. But in a new take, the harvesters will change direction and mow the AT&T globe out of the stalks. The new AT&T was formed in the merger of SBC Communications and AT&T Corp. in late 2005. Adding to the mix, in late 2004 Cingular bought AT&T Wireless, eradicating that brand because of its poor reputation among customers.(CNN) NO WORD how this effects the sponsorship of the #31 Chevy Jeff Burton drives for Richard Childress Racing as it is not mentioned in the article and have not heard.(1-12-2007)
Even more on Cingular/AT&T/Childress: Car owner Richard Childress could have sponsor trouble if AT&T changes the names of the brands its about to acquire. AT&T has said it will spend $67 billion to purchase BellSouth, the parent company of Cingular - which currently sponsors Childress' #31 Chevrolet. If the deal goes through, Cingular and BellSouth will be known as AT&T.
That won't fly in NASCAR, where series sponsor Nextel Cup has an exclusivity contract that grandfathered in the Cingular and Alltel sponsorships and logos. But they can't be changed, and new names will not be permitted. "The contract NASCAR presented us is pretty straightforward," said Michael Robichaud, vice president of sports sponsorships. "It's really no different than the category exclusivity that Winston had for 33 years. We actually took it one step further, out of respect for Richard Childress and Roger Penske, and grandfathered in their existing sponsorships as it stood on the day we signed our agreement." Childress wasn't sure how it will play out. "It's too early to comment on all that," he said. "Cingular has said they're going to be here for the long haul, and we expect them to be in the sport for quite a while."(Associated Press)(3-27-2006)
Latest on AT&T and Cingular UPDATE #31 news - NASCAR says NO: Life goes on for Cingular Wireless, even though the brand is mere months from dying away. AT&T, which plans to take full control of the cellphone provider as part of its acquisition of BellSouth, intends to drop the 5-year-old Cingular name. Although Atlanta-based Cingular has spent more than $4 billion advertising itself since the company was born, its services will be renamed with the historic AT&T brand. Cingular's president and chief executive, Stan Sigman, supports the change, saying the company has been at a "competitive disadvantage" in pitting itself against rival Verizon Wireless, which shares the same name as other services offered by Verizon Communications. Cingular, meanwhile, has been distinct from its current corporate parents, AT&T and BellSouth. One thing isn't up for debate: Because the Cingular brand will continue to exist for months, the carrier can't afford to stop spending money on marketing. Thus you'll see plenty of Cingular ads, notably during the NCAA men's basketball tournament — which began this week — and during Fox TV's hugely popular "American Idol." Cingular will come full circle if, as expected, AT&T buys BellSouth for $67 billion in stock, taking full control of Cingular in the process. AT&T's plans to eliminate the BellSouth and Cingular names, and move to the single AT&T name, would save hundreds of millions of dollars on ads.(Atlanta Journal-Constitution), no mention in the column what happens with the #31 team, but would assume it will be rebranded AT&T at some point.(3-18-2006) UPDATE: NASCAR officials say they have informed Richard Childress Racing that if Cingular Wireless changes its name to AT&T, as expected after a recent merger, AT&T would not be allowed on Jeff Burton's #31 car. NASCAR made the ruling based on its interpretation of its contract with series sponsor Nextel. Cingular and Alltel, as well as Samsung/Radio Shack with Texas Motor Speedway, were grandfathered in as existing sponsors when the Nextel Series sponsorship contract was signed in 2003. "It's pretty clear that they can't transfer a name due to a sale," NASCAR Vice President for Corporate Communications Jim Hunter said March 17.
Executives from Cingular would not comment March 16 when asked about what would happen to the company's sponsorship. "Right now, Cingular is in it and is in it for the long haul," team owner Richard Childress said March 19. "That's about all I can say."
Hunter said that Cingular could negotiate with Nextel to try to transfer the name and keep the sponsorship. But Michael Robichaud, vice president for sports marketing for Sprint Nextel, said there are no plans to negotiate. One option could be for Cingular to move to the Busch Series, where any cellular company can provide sponsorship.(SceneDaily.com)(3-22-2006)
Latest on AT&T and Cingular: AT&T announced a $67 billion dollar merger with BellSouth that could create the largest telecommunications company in the country. The purchase of Atlanta-based BellSouth would give AT&T total control of Cingular, the nation’s largest cell phone provider, and BellSouth’s nine-state network. Together, the three companies employ more than 316,000 people. The Cingular brand would likely be phased out in favor of the AT&T brand. The name will be familiar to wireless customers: AT&T Wireless Inc., a spin-off of AT&T, was acquired by Cingular in October 2004. The BellSouth name also would be absorbed in the deal.(MSNBC), no word on how this will effect the Cingular sponsorship of the #31 RCR team.(3-6-2006)