Letters to the Editor

So, sue me

June 25, 2008


To the editor:

Has it come to the point Kansas University (darn, I guess it's $10 a pop to use the official logos, you see) is so important in your lives and businesses that we all stand by while they are so very greedily naughty? If I use a blue magic marker on my red T-shirt and write my support for the athletics department will they come after me? If I sell that T-shirt to a friend to cover costs even without the official Jayhawk (darn, there goes another $10 for using the bird word without permission) or if I walk Mass. Street dressed in red and blue will I end up in court?

Seems to me with all the wins this year KU ($10) would be riding high on the alumni and their pride. But many things have been promised to those who win and someone has to pay, huh? Why not Joe College? Come on KU ($10), this is just so wrong. Are we gonna keep supporting this?

P.S. If you want your $40 KU, (oops, $50), sue me!

Chris Jones,



hail2oldku 9 years, 12 months ago

It's not that simple ls04. Courts have held in the past that simply causing confusion about an association with copywritten or trademark material is enough to be a violation. I'll let you do the sitation digging on this one.At any rate, Sinks did indeed try to become a licensed user of the university name and mascot. The thing that kept him from doing so is not that the university rejected his application but that he didn't want to pay the fees. He's not being bullied, he's thumbing his nose at the establishment and now crying because he got slapped.As far as KU not having a chance to win, I'd all but bet on them coming out on top. I don't expect that they would spend $300k+ if they didn't think they had a strong case. Sinks on the other hand is in the fight holding on to the hope that he can win in order to save that portion of his business.

supernik 9 years, 12 months ago

since when can someone copyright the name of state or a color?

BigAl 9 years, 12 months ago

Thanks geniusmannumber1. I thought it might be something like that but I didn't know. I also didn't know that there were eight other schools. Thanks for the info.

BigPrune 9 years, 12 months ago

I don't see how KU is going to win this fight. They are playing the bully on the block to intimidate and manipulate.Rock chalk..........trademark or copyright? Jayhawk...............trademark or copyright? Kansas.................trademark or copyright?

hail2oldku 9 years, 12 months ago

You're just picking on the little guy local businessman Phillbert. How dare you!! The poor guy is just trying to make a buck so he can afford to live here in Lawrence. He's got to keep that roof in Alvamar over his family's head and his subprime mortgage is about to adjust.

Miss_Spent 9 years, 12 months ago

Owens Corning copyrighted the color pink on its insulation. No other insulation manufacturer can use pink.

Michael Throop 9 years, 12 months ago

KU is NOT the bad guy here. I don't know that Joe College is either, except the issue of intellectual property has been long settled,and KU is very protective of the "look-feel" and the image that is portrayed to the outside world.It DOES make a difference. Yes, I suspect "Rock Chalk Jayhawk" has been copyrighted. "KU"and the school color combdination may be,too, though,the basic colors might leave room for interpretation.

fu7il3 9 years, 12 months ago

If they are making money off a trademark violation, then the owner of that trademark has a right to a portion of the proceits. Seems pretty simple to me. They are obviously making money off of a trademark without providing the owner any compensation. Either they should pay to have the license, or stop selling.Any other trademark, and it wouldn't even be a question.

hail2oldku 9 years, 11 months ago

"It's going to be awfully hard to make the case that Joe College is causing confusion, seeing as how there are signs all over the store saying that they have NO association with the University and their website is plastered with similar disclaimers."That makes no difference to the person walking down the street and seeing a shirt for the first time (or the 1000th time for that matter.) If that person has never been in the store or on the website when they see the shirt they have no way of knowing about the disclaimers. I've got friends and acquantances that are fans of other schools who have commented on the classless nature of some of these shirts and asking why the school allows them to be sold. While I think some of this might just be jealousy because they don't have similar products (at least that they aren't aware of), these are not stupid people and they are believing that the university is somehow involved. The Muck Fizzou shirt is the biggest example that is brought to light. THAT is confusion regarding the branding of the university.

jafs 9 years, 12 months ago

I have thought for a long time that businesses (and schools) should pay people to wear clothing that advertises for them, rather than the other way around.

morganlefay 9 years, 12 months ago

I really like the tshirts I've bought at Joe College. They're hilarious and whenever you wear them, people get a big kick out of them. I'll continue to buy there as long as they're open for business.

Lawrenceiscrooked 9 years, 11 months ago

The whole issue is the kids like Joe College shirts (and prices of those shirts) better than the "official" shirts. This irritates KU ($10). Leave the little guy alone. Certainly they have more important issues to resolve. Like how much to increase tuition next year. GO JOE COLLEGE!!

BigAl 9 years, 12 months ago

I don't know anything about copyright or trademark rules but can someone tell me about this Jeannette, Pa. High School that calls themselves the Jayhawks? They even have a Jayhawk on their football helmets. If Joe College is infringing, I would think this High School is infringing even more so.

Confrontation 9 years, 12 months ago

They wouldn't be selling it if people weren't buying it. At KU, we have what is known as a "Fan Base." Unheard of in ManCrappin, the FB in Lawrence supports the team and purchases items with Jayhawks on them. If KU ever becomes as unpopular as K-Suck, then no one will care who uses the logo (considering no one will want to buy it).

geniusmannumber1 9 years, 12 months ago

Ah, yes. Trademark and copyright law. So simple, any ol' LJW commenter can do it.

Phillbert 9 years, 12 months ago

Clearly the 75 pages worth of businesses who actually obey the copyright law are just a bunch of suckers. How could anyone think that a blue shirt, sold in Lawrence that talks about "Hawk Football" playing in a big game that references oranges could have anything to do with Jayhawk Football and the Orange Bowl?

sherbert 9 years, 12 months ago

I thought it was legal to use even copyrighted/trademarked items if obviously a parody. Isn't that how it works in Hollywood?

geniusmannumber1 9 years, 12 months ago

Jeannette asked for and obtained permission to use the Jayhawk and its logo, as did the other eight schools around the country who use it. They paid a $1 licensing fee, presumably because the schools are not a commercial enterprise. So it's really not applicable to this discussion.

penguin 9 years, 12 months ago

http://kuathletics.cstv.com/ot/kan-licensing-faq.htmlagain, this website is pretty helpful on what they view as trademarked. This site really outlines everything you need to know before attempting to sell Jayhawks stuff.The problem is that unlicensed "stuff" does not benefit the university like those that do as detailed in the FAQ sheet.

hail2oldku 9 years, 11 months ago

"So what exactly is it that KU trades, that requires a trademark?"Brilliant!!!(not)

mom_of_three 9 years, 12 months ago

people around the country think KU is responsible for the shirts that some think are in bad taste. So if the country thinks the shirts are linked to KU, maybe there possibly be some type of copyright or trademark infringement. Now, some of the shirts are funny rather than in bad taste, i have to admit.

BigAl 9 years, 12 months ago

Maybe not "more so" but this high school is flat out using the Jayhawk logo. I was just curious on how this came about. I would assume that someone from long ago had ties to KU?It seems to me that Temple University made Free State change it's Firebird because it was similar to the Temple Owl?

deskboy04 9 years, 12 months ago

I don't care about any of this. I won't buy anything that has a logo representing a business or team that makes lots of money unless they give it to me. Why should I wear a Royals or Chiefs cap that costs more than one that has no logo? Why not just make a donation to the people that are making a lot more money than I am? I don't buy overpriced t-shirts at concerts either. I am a KU fan, but I don't buy any of the overpriced stuff that they sell. They get enough money from the people that can afford the tickets, etc. Some of us have a hard time making ends meet...buying shirts advertising for someone else doesn't help.

penguin 9 years, 12 months ago

The trademark rules are pretty simple and have been around for years...http://kuathletics.cstv.com/ot/kan-licensing-trademark.htmlIf you have questions on specific applications...just look at the rules, which would probably be outside most of your examples.It is trademarked...that is just how it works. If you check out the people with licensed permission, you might notice that it is 75 pages long. Also they would not sue for that small of an amount. However, they might go after you for violations of trademark law, which will probably cost you a bit more money.

fu7il3 9 years, 12 months ago

How would they be even more so? Joe College is selling the T-shirts in Lawrence, KS, obviously referring to the athletic department. I don't know how they can possibly say that they are not making money off of the athletic department trademarks.I doubt Jeannette is making anything by implying association to the university.

penguin 9 years, 11 months ago

The only problem is that Joe College money does not benefit students in anyway. The school gets x amount of dollars from each licensed distributer and puts the money in for use on student programs, athletic and academic scholarships. I guess if the cost is a little higher so be it.This fight will only lead to some other silly directive that student/individuals with these shirts will not be shown on TV. The same as what has happened with the Muck Fizzou shirts. Again, a silly response, but I see it happening with these shirts too.Also the only reason most of the people are moaning is that they just want to take a shot at KU. Well this trademark issue is all over the place:MLB is going after Little League teams in Chicago that use trademarked names :http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20080529/2344361265.shtmlMLB went after fantasy baseball trying to claim trademark rights on player names and stats...hence why the old NES games sometimes just had players with the stats of a superstar, but not his name:http://williampatry.blogspot.com/2006/01/fantasy-baseball.htmlThis list goes on and on. The point being that this is not some out of the blue attack by a school that has done well this year. In fact, it is a trend of those wishing to protect their brand and collect on their product. However, I truly feel that the MLB cases are much more laughable/egregious than this current effort by KU.

hail2oldku 9 years, 12 months ago

Al here is a little more history on it for you (though who knows how accurate)http://jeannettejayhawksfootball.blogspot.com/2008/01/origin-of-jayhawk-mascot-dates-back-to.htmlAnd remember - Google is your friend (although highly commercialized)

Confrontation 9 years, 12 months ago

Joe College hasn't only been using "Kansas" and the color "blue." Remember their shirt that said, "If loving JULIAN is wrong, I don't want to be WRIGHT?" Trying to profit off the name of a KU player could've put Julian in a sticky situation. They need to either respect the school's copyrights or pay the fines. Other schools/companies/etc. have logos and copyrights to protect. KU's image is on the line when Joe College puts out some of their crap and imply that it's a license t-shirt. I do, however, admit that some of the shirts are pretty funny. I really like the ones that make fun of Missery and K-Suck.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 12 months ago

The name of the state and the color blue are not the property of KU athletics.

Take_a_letter_Maria 9 years, 11 months ago

"The point being that this is not some out of the blue attack by a school that has done well this year."Very true penguin, in fact this fight has been going on for a couple of years. I may be mistaken, but it may even pre-date the Lew Perkins regime as far as when the university first notified Larry to stop.For all of you out there with the protect the little guy stance (Larry Sinks & Co. ain't exactly the little guy btw, just not as big as the university) I'd like to ask this question. How would you handle it if your band, for instance, was good enough to make a name for itself and someone started playing off of that name in some way shape or form? That someone started making money off of you and your name, but they never actually used you, your name or your likeness. How would you react?

chrisjones1956 9 years, 11 months ago

To those who didn't understand the issue...my beef is because there are no official logos on those Joe College shirts so thus TADA no infringement. That's the entire reason I think it's so snarky They sued because the shirts "looked like" official shirts...Now KU($10) will just out lawyer them because they have the money to do so.. Chris Jones PS Are these the kind of ethics being taught there?

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