AT&T Seeks Immediate Permission To Put Logo On Burton's Car

Monday, March 26th 2007, 3:07 pm
By: News On 6

Telecommunications giant AT&T filed a motion Monday, asking that its logo be added to Jeff Burton's car 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."

NASCAR's Nextel deal forbids teams that race in the series from signing new sponsorship agreements with competing telecom companies. The deal does contain a provision that allows teams with existing telecom sponsorships -- such as Richard Childress Racing, the team Burton drives for -- to keep their sponsors.

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 No. 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."