Amber Alert: A Trademark-Infringement Lawsuit Is Not Missing
The man who helped create the Amber Alert in Texas, a program that's helped rescue hundreds of abducted children, is suing because he says the rest of the country is screwing it up.
Bruce Seybert, who lives about 60 miles west of Tyler, filed a lawsuit against the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for $150 million -- under trademark infringement -- and is demanding that the organization remove all Amber Alert references from all of its "business and commerce practices," according to the suit, filed Wednesday in federal court.
"This was designed with grass roots and everybody involved, and that's how it works," Seybert tells Hair Balls. "They've excluded 90 percent of the nonprofits that make it work, and it became a mockery and a slap in the face. Until they know how it works, they're just going to keep screwing it up."
The Amber Alert was created by Seybert - his daughter was best friends with Amber Hagerman - in 1996, and he worked to implement and promote the program for about four years.
Early on, Seybert asked Ernie Allen, president and CEO of the National Center, to become involved, but Allen wanted no part, according to Seybert. When federal lawmakers signed a bill in 2000 that encouraged each state to adopt the program, Seybert says that Allen wanted in.
"They've been trying to take it over ever since," Seybert says. "I want them completely removed. They wanted nothing to do with it in 1996, so leave it alone."
The national center has taken it over, working as the government's contractor to run the nationwide Amber Alert program. The problem, Seybert says, is that the center hasn't set any state-by-state guidelines.
"They've taken the efficiency out and there have been some cases that have cost some kids, I think, their lives," Seybert says.
A spokeswoman with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children did not get back to us, but we'll update as soon as she does.
Seybert says if he wins any money in the lawsuit, he'll use it to develop a children's advocacy center in Texas. "This is something that I pledged that [Amber's] name wouldn't be tarnished, and they're tarnishing it," Seybert says.