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Archive for Thursday, July 17, 2008

Verdict doesn’t make clear why some shirts OK

July 17, 2008

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— "KUnfusing."

The jury's verdict in Kansas University's trademark infringement lawsuit was filed Wednesday, and it did little to clear up why the eight-member panel ruled against certain T-shirts sold by Joe-College.com and allowed others.

For example, the jury decided that "Our Coach Can Eat Your Coach" T-shirts infringed on KU's trademarks and is now on the banned list. But "Kansas Drinking Team" can remain for sale.

On Monday, members of the federal jury refused to speak to the media about their decisions as they left the courthouse after two days of deliberations.

Both sides in the case claimed victory, although they both said they were confused by some of the jury's calls.

"A quick view of them would say that you'd have questions about why the jury came to those decisions," said Jim Marchiony, KU associate athletic director. "But in a case like this, you understand that it's a complicated issue, the jury had a lot of things to think about and discuss, and we think they did a good job."

Jury instructions took more than an hour to read, covering legal issues that attorneys spend careers on.

The jury determined that Larry Sinks, owner of Joe-College.com, and Clark Orth, T-shirt printer, willfully infringed on KU's trademarks. It ordered payment to KU of $127,337 in profits and royalties from the store.

KU had raised allegations against 206 of Sinks' T-shirts and wanted $509,000 - $476,000 in Sinks' profits and $33,000 in royalties - plus punitive damages.

In the official verdict, the jury examined the T-shirts and checked which ones they thought infringed on KU's trademark. The jury had problems with about 25 percent of the shirts.

A design that said "Hawk Star" was OK, but "Lucky to be a Jayhawk" infringed. While "Kansas Drinking Team" was allowed by the jury, "Kansas Swim Team" (with pictures of sperm cells) wasn't.

Some shirts with the word Kansas on them didn't infringe, and some did, while some T-shirts with off-color messages directed at Kansas State University and Missouri did infringe, but others didn't.

Also, shirts that referred to individual players through their nicknames were seen as infringing, but one referring to "Super Mario" was not.

JoeCollege.com lawsuit analysis

Comments

devobrun 6 years, 5 months ago

Complication = sophistication = obfuscation = modern world of feelings-based reasoning = nothingDon't try to justify any of this. Feelings need not have any rationality.

Quigly 6 years, 5 months ago

The whole thing was a circus. What a joke and a waste of time.And once again LJW, nice reporting. CRAP

devobrun 6 years, 5 months ago

KU wins, but not much. They think they put the big fear on potential infringers, but they didn't. Sinks wins because he now has a bunch of shirts that have been ruled OK, however arbitrarily. The rest of the shirts will be packaged up and sold in, I dunno, Australia. Kansas football isn't the only team with a fat coach.Or did the verdict demand that the offending shirts be destroyed under supervision of KU?

bad_dog 6 years, 5 months ago

"If "Our Coach Can Eat Your Coach" infringes KU's intellectual property rights, then KU must have protected that phrase in some way. This means KU must want to sell their own shirts reading "Our Coach Can Eat Your Coach"! Maybe they are smarter that we thought!"Who left your intellectual property unguarded? I'd call 911-no just use the non-emergency number.

kneejerkreaction 6 years, 5 months ago

Why was a jury used to determine technical infringments on complicated intellectual property issues? A couple of legal experts in trademark infringement would seem to be more appropriate. These "expert" trademark jurors are all over the field. Obviously Joe C. can't afford to appeal this kangaroo jury's decision, 'cause their logic is Swiss cheese. The judge was asleep at the wheel on this one.

spenmar 6 years, 5 months ago

LEW PERKINS is going to KEEP SUING JOE College Till He Puts Them Out of Business-The Judge Was In On The Fix - Did not allow any free speech argument to be made.Why is the Journal World not covering this fact?

sdinges 6 years, 5 months ago

It seems they should have had to offer some reasoning behind which shirts were chosen. It's like they threw them all in a pile and said "Well, let's just say the first 50 we pick up are infringing and then go home for dinner."How on Earth is Joe College (or anyone else!) supposed to avoid copyright infringement in the future when there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to the choices?

Haiku_Cuckoo 6 years, 5 months ago

"A local shirt shop owes financial damages to KU for selling shirts reading "Our Coach Can Eat Your Coach"? Huh? Maybe they were talking about the LHS coach, or the Haskell coach."Please tell me you're kidding. If you think those shirts may have been referring to LHS or Haskell then you are no smarter than the people on the jury.

Byrne 6 years, 5 months ago

But, logicsound04, it says the jury found for the defendant on that one, which I think is the opposite of what you're arguing.

fu7il3 6 years, 5 months ago

You know enough to judge the jury because two shirts that are almost exactly the same got two different verdicts. Which means regardless of applicable laws, they got one or the other wrong.Just look at the gallery. It is ridiculous.

kansasbrandon 6 years, 5 months ago

Infringement or not I don't know but I do know that most of the t-shirts at Joe College are classless, rude and offensive. Frankly I'm embarrassed for the entire Jayhawks fan base when I see some of the shirts some of us choose to wear. It wouldn't bother me a bit if Joe College went out of business. For any of you who buy these shirts thinking you're supporting the Jayhawks, well you're not. If you a real fan - wear real Jayhawks gear.

fu7il3 6 years, 5 months ago

The jury sucked. I don't think they could explain to you why they chose certain shirts if you asked. I don't care if they decide one way or the other, but at least have a reason.

Eride 6 years, 5 months ago

"The jury was terrible. If the shirt made a direct correlation to the school; KU, Jayhawk, etc, then ban it."If the jury didn't properly follow the instructions they were given that is grounds for an appeal. Instead of stating your opinion in the form of a fact maybe you should assume that since you don't actually know any of the relevant laws involved that you don't know enough to judge the performance of the jury.

Sigmund 6 years, 5 months ago

devobrun (Anonymous) says: "Don't try to justify any of this. Feelings need not have any rationality."Completely agree.sdinges (Anonymous) says: "How on Earth is Joe College (or anyone else!) supposed to avoid copyright infringement in the future when there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to the choices?"They can't, but neither can the University, it's a coin toss. I can just hear the conversation between the lawyers, "I know what you're thinking. "Is this infringing or not?" Well, to tell you the truth, given this verdict and in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a $4 million dollar copyright claim, the most dangerous lawsuit in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?"kansasbrandon (Anonymous) says: "Infringement or not I don't know but I do know that most of the t-shirts at Joe College are classless, rude and offensive. Frankly I'm embarrassed for the entire Jayhawks fan base when I see some of the shirts some of us choose to wear. It wouldn't bother me a bit if Joe College went out of business."I am embarrassed for the people who buy those shirts, not the entire KU nation. Wouldn't hurt my feelings if KU fans got some class and stopped buying their products and Joe College folded like a cheap suit. On the other heavy hand, KU's actions isn't a cause for pride either.Soapdish (Anonymous) says: "Now if I may suggest: "Our college will sue your Joe College" as a shirt:"Only if it also says "Kansas Law"

bad_dog 6 years, 5 months ago

"Well, Duh. This jury didn't have the common sense of 8 house plants. Too many juries have a victim mentality. They vote for anyone claiming to be a victim of anything without any consideration for the legal principles involved."Please Newell, enlighten us all as to the legal principles involved. Or perhaps you should stick to defining what constitutes the common sense of 8 house plants.

MattressMan 6 years, 5 months ago

So will a new sign be posted in the store stating"None of the money made from thesale of these shirts goes to the University of Kansas, except for $127,337"

devobrun 6 years, 5 months ago

Oh also, the catholic lawyers are less likely to sue because they are busy with other lawsuits. How much for the shirts, Larry?

Newell_Post 6 years, 5 months ago

Well, Duh. This jury didn't have the common sense of 8 house plants. Too many juries have a victim mentality. They vote for anyone claiming to be a victim of anything without any consideration for the legal principles involved.A local shirt shop owes financial damages to KU for selling shirts reading "Our Coach Can Eat Your Coach"? Huh? Maybe they were talking about the LHS coach, or the Haskell coach. Now, if the New Guinean national soccer team had sued due to racial stereotyping of cannibals, I could at least understand the claim, even if I disagreed with it. But this? KU got most of what they wanted so they won't appeal. And Joe College can't afford to appeal. But someone interested in free speech and rational justice should do something about this lunatic verdict.(Sorry. My apologies to the lunatics of the world. They make more sense than this verdict.)

coolmarv 6 years, 5 months ago

"A design that said "Hawk Star" was OK, but "Lucky to be a Jayhawk" infringed. While "Kansas Drinking Team" was allowed by the jury, "Kansas Swim Team" (with pictures of sperm cells) wasn't."Perhaps because KU has a swimming team (might be a club team?) and not a drinking team is why these were allowed/disallowed.

thebigspoon 6 years, 5 months ago

Most of the time jurys are people who weren't smart enough to figure out a way out of jury duty anyway.

Trobs 6 years, 5 months ago

"Just look at the gallery. It is ridiculous." What gallery?

monkeyspunk 6 years, 5 months ago

He should appeal. "A design that said "Hawk Star" was OK, but "Lucky to be a Jayhawk" infringed."The University of Kansas does not possess ownership of the word "Jayhawk" as a trademark.http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=1q7hmo.2.14

Eride 6 years, 5 months ago

"The Judge Was In On The Fix - Did not allow any free speech argument to be made."That is because it wasn't an issue of free speech... it was about the commercial infringement of trademarks... I really find it hilarious how misinformed the majority of the posters on this board are. How you could believe that commercially infringing on another entity's trademarks is protected by free speech is beyond me. That argument would void all trademarks.

Byrne 6 years, 5 months ago

Ah, Joe College. The Dr Thunder of the t-shirt world.

ehawk 6 years, 5 months ago

If the problem is selling the shirts, then give them away...with the purchase of a $15 Joe College bumper sticker.Let the lawyers suck on that for a while.

Sigmund 6 years, 5 months ago

Does it not appear strange to anyone else that the "official" name of the school is, "The University of Kansas," (UK) and NOT "Kansas University," (KU)?

Newell_Post 6 years, 5 months ago

bad_dog:If "Our Coach Can Eat Your Coach" infringes KU's intellectual property rights, then KU must have protected that phrase in some way. This means KU must want to sell their own shirts reading "Our Coach Can Eat Your Coach"! Maybe they are smarter that we thought!kansasbrandon:I agree that many of the shirts were rude and offensive. So what? How does that infringe KU's IP rights if KU is not named? If KU wants to ban such shirts from its stadia and other facilities to protect the delicate sensibilities of its impressionable youth, then it should be able to do so. It shouldn't be able to claim financial damages when it is not harmed. This is about greed, not good taste.Haiku_Cuckoo:OK, maybe it was one of the many coaches of the Chiefs or Washburn or who knows which coach they are talking about? There are lots of morbidly obese coaches in the world. Some of them might even really be cannibals, given their loutish behavior.All:I have seen "Muck Fizzou" shirts in many cities other than Lawrence. Lots of people other than KU fans in lots of other cities wear "Muck Fizzou." If the MU athletic corporation sued over that one, again I could at least understand the basis of their claim. Requiring a Lawrence shirt shop to pay damages to KU for "Muck Fizzou" when lots of other shops in lots of other towns do the same thing does indeed qualify for the houseplant IQ award of the year.

Emily Hadley 6 years, 5 months ago

Calling these shirts trademark infringement is absurd. I have seen every shirt they sell (or sold) and not a single one infringes on KU's lengthy identity standards and trademarks.This just makes me want to make sure I am not buying official KU merch. They are fighting their own fans.I still like these:http://trajansucks.mattkirkland.com/

devobrun 6 years, 5 months ago

Marchiony claimed that the jury had many complications to deal with in making their judgment. Not the least of which is the definition of infringement. Fuzzy concepts are the basis of the juries arbitrary separation of some things infringing and others not.Maybe Larry will sell me his shirts reading "Our Coach Can Eat Your Coach". I'll take them to St. Louis and sell them on Grand avenue outside the Busch Center to SLU students. After all, their basketball coach (Rick Majerus) probably could eat our basketball coach.

mcontrary 6 years, 5 months ago

The inconsistencies in this jury's rulings are ludicrous. Someone, somewhere. sometime (hopefully soon) must clarify the jury's rulings of what is and.or isn't an infringement.

Soapdish 6 years, 5 months ago

I hate to say this, knowing the flamewar that will ensue, but I think the jury did a decent job here.Looks like if it directly noted specific universities, Kansas (in arched font), the phrases "Rock Chalk" or "Go Big Blue," or included a Jayhawk logo, they bounced it. I know I've left a few others out that I noticed earlier.Do I support Joe College in all of this? Yes I do. I think they were given the hand slap that satisfied the University but allowed them to keep themselves in business as it seems the jury even thought this mess was frivolous (interjecting my opinion a bit there!).Now if I may suggest: "Our college will sue your Joe College" as a shirt...

Trobs 6 years, 5 months ago

The jury was terrible. If the shirt made a direct correlation to the school; KU, Jayhawk, etc, then ban it. Out coach can eat your coach? Really? The jury did not follow the rule of law. They followed what they considered offensive. That is vastly different from what infridged on KU.

Trobs 6 years, 5 months ago

"If the jury didn't properly follow the instructions they were given that is grounds for an appeal. Instead of stating your opinion in the form of a fact maybe you should assume that since you don't actually know any of the relevant laws involved that you don't know enough to judge the performance of the jury."Stop taking my comments out of context. Using one part of a comment to form an argument is bad. If the instructions told them to judge based on taste then this is a good ruling. Otherwise it is just confusing. How is it that two shirts with similar sayings are not both banned? From the outside looking in, it seems as if the jury just chose shirts to ban on taste and not the merit of the law.

Freestater456 6 years, 5 months ago

kansasbrandon says "Infringement or not I don't know but I do know that most of the t-shirts at Joe College are classless, rude and offensive. Frankly I'm embarrassed for the entire Jayhawks fan base when I see some of the shirts some of us choose to wear. It wouldn't bother me a bit if Joe College went out of business.__________Listen Joe College isn't asking you to buy the shirts. And offensive to whom, I'm a K-State fan and i find them quite hilarious (maybe not all of us do but people need to learn how to take a joke, you for example). But are you really saying that just because a man put something on a shirt that you found rude that you wouldn't mind if he lost his way of life. Now who is being a Jacka**!!!

ESM 6 years, 5 months ago

This is an incredibly bad verdict! Trademark protection is supposed to be specific in scope, this jury sounds unqualified to make these decisions and as a result their verdict is all over the map.So now its offensiveness that determines trademark infringement? Our Coach Can Eat Your Coach (bad) vs. Our Coach Beat Anorexia (good) is going to make the Kansas courts a national laughingstock! At what point does this become a First Amendment argument?The store should appeal but my guess is they don't have the money to fight.And the KU lawyer's argument that posting disclaimers was an admission of guilt was so crass and cheap that he should be ashamed.

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