|Updated: 12/08/2011 6:19 pm
||Published: 12/08/2011 6:09 pm
LITTLE ROCK, AR - What's in a name? If the name is "Arkansas Lottery", it's worth fighting for all the way to the Arkansas Supreme Court. One man owns the trademark, but right now he can't use it.
Ed Dozier is a Little Rock businessman who says he saw a business opportunity when he registered the term "Arkansas Lottery", "Arkansas Lotto" and "Lottery Arkansas" in 1994.
"When we registered those trademarks with the state we presumed we assumed they were going to be legally ours and we could do what we wanted with them," Dozier says.
Turns out he can't. The lottery commission threatened legal action if he did.
"When your rights are trampled on for no particular reason and no one will give you an answer, that's not right,” Dozier says. “The common man should not put up with that."
So Dozier fought back, suing the state. A Pulaski County circuit court judge refused to dismiss the case, so today the attorney general's office appealed to the Supreme Court to toss the suit out.
The state says since the lottery is a state agency it can't be sued. But Skip Davidson, attorney for the trademark holder, argued Thursday before the justices since the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery sells tickets it is a for-profit venture.
Assistant attorney general Mark Ohrenberger says that legal argument could have negative impacts for other state agencies.
"That would be tantamount to saying the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration is a for-profit business because it collects taxes," Ohrenberger says.
So the seven justices will decide whether you can in fact sue a state agency in court. Ed Dozier hopes that day comes soon.
"If we win we're going to go right back to doing the business we set out to do," Dozier says.
Dozier says he'd like to sell memorabilia, t-shirts, and other novelty items using the words "Arkansas Lottery". But added he won't risk buying inventory unless he knows he can do it without having to end up in court.