Joe-College won’t have to pay the $127,000 in damages or more than $650,000 in legal fees owed to Kansas Athletics Inc. from a trademark-infringement lawsuit filed to stop the printing and selling of T-shirts.
In exchange, Larry Sinks won’t be able to print another shirt with “Kansas,” “Lawrence,” a Jayhawk or anything else even remotely associated with Kansas University, its athletic teams or official colors.
In a statement released Monday afternoon, the two sides announced that they had settled all legal and financial issues related to the original lawsuit and those spawned by subsequent rulings.
And to hear athletics officials tell it, the expense of making their case in court and months spent defending the KU brand were well worth it.
“We are extremely pleased that we can now put this case behind us,” said Lew Perkins, KU’s athletics director, in the statement. “We did not want to initiate this lawsuit, but it was important to protect KU’s trademarks from infringement and dilution.
“The jury correctly ruled that the defendants willfully infringed on our marks, and we hope the action we took serves notice that we will take all due action to protect those marks.”
In July 2008, KU and the athletics department successfully won a judgment in federal court that prevented Joe-College from producing and selling certain shirts deemed to violate KU’s licensed colors, phrases and other items that could cause confusion in the retail marketplace. Among the offending shirts was one with the words “Kansas Swim Team,” accompanied by an illustration of sperm cells.
As part of that case, Joe-College was ordered to pay Kansas Athletics $127,000 in damages, plus cover KU’s legal fees. But the case allowed the company to continue printing and selling certain shirts, including “Kansas Drinking Team,” “Muck Fizzou,” “Hawk Star” and others.
Now, as part of the settlement, Joe-College and its owner, Larry Sinks, have legally forfeited the right to produce any such shirts ever again. Sinks already had closed his downtown shop, at 734 Mass., at the end of March.
Monday evening, Sinks said he could not comment on the settlement.
“I am a big fan of KU and I hope we earn a national championship next year with Coach (Bill) Self,” Sinks said. “And I think Turner Gill is a great football coach.”
In the statement, released by Kansas Athletics, Sinks said: “We apologize for our past public statements criticizing KU, Kansas Athletics, and their employees for pursuing the litigation. We have agreed we will no longer manufacture or distribute any of the more than 200 shirts that were the subject of the litigation, nor will we manufacture or distribute any other shirts with similar marks or colors.”
Jim Marchiony, an associate athletics director and spokesman for Kansas Athletics, said that Sinks’ decision to close his business was not a direct result of the settlement.
“We wish we didn’t have to go through all of this, but the message is that we have registered marks that we’re going to protect, and we will go to the necessary lengths in order to do that.”