Archive for Monday, April 12, 2010

Kansas Athletics, Joe-College settle legal issues

Signs are posted on the door of to emphasize that the T-shirts are not licensed by Kansas Athletics Inc. Store owner Larry Sinks is headed to federal court to defend himself and his store from a suit by Kansas Athletics. The department wants Sinks to stop printing Kansas-related designs on blue T-shirts.

Signs are posted on the door of to emphasize that the T-shirts are not licensed by Kansas Athletics Inc. Store owner Larry Sinks is headed to federal court to defend himself and his store from a suit by Kansas Athletics. The department wants Sinks to stop printing Kansas-related designs on blue T-shirts.

April 12, 2010


Kansas Athletics announces settlement

Kansas Athletics announced Monday it reached a settlement with local business Joe-College. The small t-shirt shop will not have to pay the nearly $800,000 in damages. Enlarge video

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.”


Randall Barnes 7 years, 11 months ago

print shirts on prison orange or black and white striped and with sayings about politics or lew.

Darwin 7 years, 11 months ago

Larry got off easy, with a slap on the hands. Too bad KUAC didn't burn him.

Darrell Lea 7 years, 11 months ago

I imagine Mr. Sinks managed to protect his personal assets and profits he made from selling the infringing products by closing the business.

7texdude 7 years, 11 months ago

So, this is the end of it, right? Right? Right?

BabyBear 7 years, 11 months ago

that is a pretty hard core arm twisting. Lew didnt want this to happen? thats not what he said at lawrence country club.

KansasPerson 7 years, 11 months ago

So the KUAC owns the name of our town now? That's interesting.

Someone in my family has "Lawrence" in his name. I guess we'd better take cover!

AnnaUndercover 7 years, 11 months ago

This whole case has really poisoned the experience of living in a college town for me. I'm disappointed in KU Athletics.

Michael Stanclift 7 years, 11 months ago

My thoughts exactly. How did KUAC decide that it gets to have any say over the use of the name of the city of Lawrence.

Vinny1 7 years, 11 months ago

You must not have a very high reading comprehension level.

Sinks can no longer print anything Lawrence. He agreed to the terms so he could keep the hundreds of thousands he made off the shirts.

Other companies can still print and sell Lawrence, KS tshirts without problem. Sinks would have been just fine had he not tried to play with fire. He could have paid the licensing fee like every other retailer, or he could have stopped printing the questionable shirts. He chose to do neither. And because of it he is sitting at home rolling in dough, but without a business.

RoeDapple 7 years, 11 months ago

Interesting that they would beat the little guy down but when Anheuser-Busch bottled Bud Light in red and blue cans the only reaction was, "voiced their disapproval".

CHEEZIT 7 years, 11 months ago

In the words of the church lady "Well isn't that speciallllllllllll!!"

Linda Schwertfeger 7 years, 11 months ago

I thought the shirts that Joe College made were interesting and I liked them myself.

Vinny1 7 years, 11 months ago

RoeDapple (anonymous) says… Interesting that they would beat the little guy down but when Anheuser-Busch bottled Bud Light in red and blue cans the only reaction was, "voiced their disapproval".

Obviously you overlooked the minor details. When KU "voiced their disapproval" to Anheuser Busch, they gladly said they would pull all the cans from the shelves. When KU "voices their disapproval" to Joe College, Sinks pretty much said Go F yourself. He knew he was wrong, and the judgement proved so.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 7 years, 11 months ago

KUAC: We promise to not put a lien on you, your wife and children for ten generations if you promise to never come out of your hole again.

Sinks: Sounds like a deal... AGREED.

friendlyjhawk 7 years, 11 months ago

Sinks took it the the shorts. KU is BIG business and they got what they wanted. Now KU is trying to make it look like they won. They didn't win, they just had the $$$ to use the courts to bully Sinks into submission..

Graczyk 7 years, 11 months ago

He can't even print the shirts that weren't found to be infringing? That's a crock of crap. Talk about an overreach, but that's par for the course for KU in this matter.


And yes, I understand what went down. Doesn't mean that it doesn't smell like crap.

Vinny1 7 years, 11 months ago

Considering that HE AGREED to not print any other shirts it seems like no reach.

And no, if you think that you obviously do not understand what went down.

impska 7 years, 11 months ago

KU could afford to eat its legal costs, and Sinks could not afford to eat KU's legal costs. I'm pretty sure even my cat can figure this one out - and she was bred for looks, not brains.

David Klamet 7 years, 11 months ago

I remember the good ole days when I was naive enough to think that, as a Kansas taxpayer, I had an equal stake in the symbols of state institutions.

  1. If I draw or paint a picture with a Jayhawk in it, is that infringing? Only if I try to sell it?
  2. If I take a picture of a Jayhawk (real or otherwise), or of someone wearing a licensed T-shirt, is that infringing? How small a part of the picture does it need to be before it's not infringing?
  3. If I chant "Rock Chalk, Jayhawk, KU.....", is that infringing?
  4. If I record myself chanting the above, is that infringing?
  5. Can I think about Jayhawks all I want?????

Explain the difference between this and a police state again.

palmettostar 7 years, 11 months ago

I concur. I was thinking the same thing when I saw that he can't even print shirts that say Lawrence or Kansas on them. Okay..what about all the other companies in the state that print t-shirts and other merchandise with the same words on them? That have NOTHING to do with KU...I didn't know that they had Kansas trademarked, after all, we live in the State of Kansas and any business can use the name, I would think.

Kimberlee Bourdon 7 years, 11 months ago

So he can't even get into the Lawrence, Kansas tourism tee shirt business. Yea, I get the argument that KU had to sue, but this is honestly overkill. Shame on you KUAC.

hail2oldku 7 years, 11 months ago

Not way wrong. AB agreed to stop selling the beer cans in communities where is was protested which is a little different than what Vinny posted, but not by much.

Of course that is how this all originally started with Larry. Pay the licensing fee or stop producing the offending shirts. Larry thought he was arrogant enough to think he didn't have to play by the same rules as everyone else though and it caught him in the end.

1029 7 years, 11 months ago

rock chalk, beak em jayhawks! I'm glad that sinks guy is gone. now if The University could find a way to get rid of la parilla, the round corner, and the granada, i might actually consider taking my family downtown again someday.

1029 7 years, 11 months ago

and also before i come downtown i would need to know that i can park my car without paying or having to walk too far

areyouserious 7 years, 11 months ago

anything else you want ???? ........get a life and stay out of Lawrence, we dont want u here anyway..................and stop claiming to be a jayhawk fan!
Let me guess.....the quality part of Topeka that you live in doesnt have any "less than desirable places".......if it doesn't then why would you ever want to go elsewhere?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 11 months ago

When is KUAC going to sue Kansas State for using the word "Kansas?"

dontcallmedan 7 years, 11 months ago

1029--the Round Corner is gone, La Parrilla is wonderful, and parking is cheap. Please stay away from downtown.

TopJayhawk 7 years, 11 months ago

That's it. Keep up the obtuse thinking. If you can't figure out the difference, then you need to give it up.
He voluntarily agreed to quit making the other shirtrs so he could keep his half a million bucks. It's called playing ball. If he did not want it to go this far he should have stopped yrs ago when KU was "asking." He went for all the marbles, and lost... all the marbles.

hail2oldku 7 years, 11 months ago

You might as well give it up TopJ. This crowd has no understanding of the law and no reading comprehension skills to ever learn how to understand and interpret it.

compmd 7 years, 11 months ago

I understand the law and most of this was KUAC beating up on someone because they could. There were numerous, obvious examples of fair use through parody exception, fair use through common sense (if a reasonable person would not believe an item to be representative of or belonging to a certain rightsholder then there is no infringement) ,and outright misapplication of law (explain what KUAC trademark was violated by "our coach can eat your coach" or anything referencing Lawrence). This whole thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth and I refuse to support KUAC after this.

hail2oldku 7 years, 11 months ago

Apparently you don't considering you can't answer your own questions.

And if you understand the law, what part of it allows Larry to play by a different set of rules than the rest of the t-shirt vendors in town?

This happened as much because of his arrogance as it did by KU Athletics being a bully.

As for you not supporting KUAC after this, I doubt they'll miss you.

Robert Rauktis 7 years, 11 months ago

If this guy wants to bully people with the American way, why doesn't he go to Afghanistan? Marchiony can even be a Radar O'Reily spokesperson.

hawkman8950 7 years, 11 months ago

I wouldn't be suprised is Fortune 500 Lew and his muppet mouthpiece Marchiony have security teams at all sporting events and functions to police who wears acceptable t-shirts into games much like the WWE does whenever they have a wrestling show. I also never realized that KUAC looked after the name of the town as well. Add Joe-College along side another victim in Wichita St. Football as things or entities Perkins has killed. Guess we need to police ourselves as well like a previous poster mentioned. I will not risk it singing the alma mater, chanting the Rock Chalk Chant, take pictures at football and baseball games and whatever else may come along. Don't want the athletic department coming after me. They go after money all the dang time like they are operating the business in the red. Unless it is to line them pockets just a little more and become fatter cats than they are already. Maybe KUAC should sue Kansas St., Kansas Weslyan University, Kansas State High School Activities Association, Kansas School for the Blind and Deaf, Kansas Christian Athletic Conference and on and on and on...

Maddy Griffin 7 years, 11 months ago

Wow, Lew! Feel like a really big man now huh. So sad.

rgh 7 years, 11 months ago

When I post Rock Chalk Jayhawk on my Facebook, is KU athletics now going to come after me?

Even the jury that decided which shirts supposedly infringed upon KU's trademark didn't have clear cut answers. Some MIGHT have infringed and others were ridiculous to be listed.

I own ONE Joe College shirt and about 25 KU licensed shirts including some really expensive polo shirts. Does that make you feel better Lew and Jim? No one buying from Joe College is taking away from KU athletics!!!

CLARKKENT 7 years, 11 months ago


Vinny1 7 years, 11 months ago

How so?

Lew is the best thing that has happened to KU athletics in a long long time. And KU athletics in turn is great for the city of Lawrence.

By a 3rd graders rough logic that would mean Lew = good for Lawrence.

del888 7 years, 11 months ago

How do all those other 'jayhawk' businesses get away with using the jayhawk logo. Jayhawk Guttering, Jayhawk Dentisry, Jayhawk Plumbing, Jayhawk Taxi, etc. etc. There's a big list in the phone book. Just wondering how Lew gets to pick and choose who is in violation and who is not.

hail2oldku 7 years, 11 months ago

Some are grandfathered in - using the name before the trademark was registered, others do what Larry was asked to do and PAY the LICENSING FEE. Pretty simple stuff del.

areyouserious 7 years, 11 months ago

KU isnt in the plumbing, dentistry, guttering, or taxi business...............but they are in the business of selling apparel..........I agree its wrong, but something tells me, we will see some of the shirts continued by somebody else.

Maddy Griffin 7 years, 11 months ago

You're only "chosen" if you are a threat to KUAC"s money. I bought JoeCollege's shirts cus they were funny and cheaper than the licensed gear. When you're trying to put shirts on 8 grandkids, you don't want to spend $29,99 for shirts if you can get funny ones for $10.

bad_dog 7 years, 11 months ago

Funny, you can often buy licensed t-shirts at Dillon's & Hy-Vee for $10-$15. They can sell them at this price and afford the fees-why couldn't Joe College?

Answer: He didn't want to pay them.

Vinny1 7 years, 11 months ago

Exactly. And JoeCollege shirts really weren't funny. Most of them were just dumb and unoriginal.
He stole many ideas. And most the other ones were submitted by people, who in return for an idea that made Sinks thousands they got a single tshirt.

The guy is a scumbag.

Muck_Fizzou 7 years, 11 months ago

Or Jayhawk Bail Bonds which uses the word and the Jayhawk image? I know KU is not in the Bail Bonds business, but if you are protecting your name and brand do you really want to be associated with bail bonds? small check = probably not big check = YES!

areyouserious 7 years, 11 months ago

Soooooooooooo..................... The lawsuit allows to continue selling some of the T-Shirts right?? Nothing says he can't sell his business to somebody who wants to continue the non-infringing shirts.

Kash_Encarri 7 years, 11 months ago

The fact that Larry placed those cheesy "We Are Not Licensed By Anyone" and "KU Does Not Approve of these Shirts" signs all over the place indicate that he knew he was playing with fire. He shouldn't have been surprised when he got burned.

Vinny1 7 years, 11 months ago

Same bullying that destroyed Mangino? hahahahahahahaha Mangino did everything to himself. That comment in itself shows how ignorant you are. The entire team is much happier without Mangino than they were with him.

And even if you are correct in saying that nobody thought they were buying a licensed product that doesn't help the fact that it is still illegal to sell copyright infringement apparel.

Sigma 7 years, 11 months ago

If they can't make the shirts anymore, how about pants? I'd buy a pair!

anonyname 7 years, 11 months ago

Anyone else think it odd that the picture at the top shows an open store, and the captions for the picture and the video both reference the store in the present tense as if we could go walk in today?

barrymore 7 years, 11 months ago

The legal eagles are correct. But KU sucks. Athletics in this town as in many are out of control. Large headlines in the paper over tutor fed students whose talent is in something that is essestially a joke. Science, lit, social suffer while this idiocy sucks up money. This reminds me of Lawrence jamming the old wallpaper store that stood near where Wally world is on Iowa. Those people were hounded until they left but no story in the world. But KU can do no wrong and if they do the paper glosses it. "Athletics". Um hum.

pfunk81 7 years, 11 months ago

Wow, they can't even use the word "Lawrence", what an effing joke. How many basketball tickets did the judge and jury get for this?

areyouserious 7 years, 11 months ago

all the ones that Rodney Jones was selling illegally!!!!!!

Vinny1 7 years, 11 months ago

Considering that Sinks agreed to all the terms set forth you obviously have no idea of what actually happened in this case.

Tony Kisner 7 years, 11 months ago

Larry may not be able to print the shirts but it does not stop others from do so. Then there is the case where some if not most of the shirts were found not to be in violation. If Larry did get a copy write for any of the sayings, can he sell it? License it?

BabyBear 7 years, 11 months ago

If you go back and read some of the OLDER info you'd see that Larry did file to get licensing and was turned down because Lew Perkins and Paul Vandertig have a personal grudge. It had nothing to do with what was on the shirts.

Also, I think its funny that the KUAD now owns Larrys name now (larry is short for Lawrence)

hail2oldku 7 years, 11 months ago

Actually, Larry's previous company is the one that HAD a license to sell KU merchandise. He didn't like paying the royalties so he thought he could skirt the licensing by going the route that he did.

Vinny1 7 years, 11 months ago

Anyone who thinks KU was in the wrong on this one is just blatantly ignorant.

The court system has ruled. Many people in these comments have tried to explain it. Yet there are some who are so dumb and ignorant they fail to realize that Larry knew he was wrong. He continued. And he AGREED to the final terms and to stop printing ANY shirts. HE AGREED. Now if only some of you were not so dumb, you would be able to see this.

bad_dog 7 years, 11 months ago

Yeah, I wonder how many Sinks apologists would stick up for him if he made tacky t-shirts that prominently featured or referred to the names/nicknames/images of their companies or families as sources for the material.

banksie 7 years, 11 months ago

Why do all the doom and gloomers think KU owns the terms Kansas and Lawrence? THEY DON'T.

This pertains to ONE individual/business who violated trademarks, was found guilty of doing so in a court of law, and reached a settlement agreeing not to use said terms in order to avoid paying damages and court fees.

Not going after the $500k+ looks like more of an olive branch to me, anyway.

Muck_Fizzou 7 years, 11 months ago

In the end both sides are right and both sides are wrong. KU has to protect it's brand, but part of protecting your brand is not being perceived as a jerk or big corporation attacking the little guy. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

Larry Sinks recognized that KU doesn't own the color blue or the words "Kansas" and "Lawrence" and decided to capitalize on a market that is clearly being undeserved. However when Wal-Mart tells you to watch your butt, you don't spit it their eye and say "you don't like it, take me to court", because they will. Clearly Sink's gave up in the end and decided it wasn't worth it.

The best outcome would be if both parties learned something from this, but I fear that will not be the case. KU will continue to brand damage by publicly defending it's brand and Sink's will continue to blame the big guy for being mean, when he could have compromised.

nytemayr 7 years, 11 months ago

I was going to donate money to KU but not now or evermore.

You win Perkins!

bad_dog 7 years, 11 months ago

More like Sinks agreed to stop doing that which he could have stopped several years ago, thus KU agreed not to seek satisfaction of the judgment or repayment of the legal fees in return. Everyone is now where they could have (and would have) been had Sinks merely played by the rule of law and stopped infringing on KU's property rights when requested. Except for the fact that Joe-College apparently doesn't exist as an ongoing business in Lawrence anymore.

mfagan 7 years, 11 months ago

A quick note about the use of "Lawrence" on T-shirts, and how that would affect Larry Sinks in the future. According to the language in the settlement, Mr. Sinks cannot use "Lawrence" or any other such words when such use could be seen as being connected to KU. Also from the settlement: "Defendants shall be permitted to utilize the word LAWRENCE alone or the word  LAWRENCE in combination with the word KANSAS, if these words are used in good faith to describe a person or organization whose residence or place of business is located in Lawrence, Kansas..." Translation: He can't do a "Lawrence" shirt in blue, with "KU" on one side and basketball of the sleeve. If he were to -- hypothetically -- contract with Lawrence High School to do a LHS shirt that included the word "Lawrence," however, that would not appear to violate the terms of the settlement. - Mark Fagan Transportation Reporter

OldEnuf2BYurDad 7 years, 11 months ago

Keep in mind something. If KU or KUAC or someone else didn't have "control" over the use of university symbols, etc. someone would be printing shirts of Tigers or Wildcats in some demeaning sex act with a Jayhawk, and the students wouldn't have the common sense to not wear them to games, church, etc. Without SOME controls, there'd be Jayhawk porn out there somewhere. Is that what you want? (Why do I feel I'll regret asking that?)

hammerhawk 7 years, 11 months ago

This is one sorry, sorry affair. sweet lew should have been fired immediately upon taking off on his vile vendeta against a hard working business person in downtown Lawrence. Lew's actions have left a terrible stench with me when I think about how he browbeat and brought a businessman to his knees. FIRE LEW.

hail2oldku 7 years, 11 months ago

Yeah, how dare he protect the rights of the university and it's students. What was he thinking insisting that this business play by the same rules that the other businesses in town have to follow? Can you believe the gall of going all the way to court to prove a point, winning that point and then letting the guy off the hook like that in the end? I mean if you're going to crush someone into submission really CRUSH them.

ozzynbn 7 years, 11 months ago

Best of luck to Larry Sinks in whatever his future endeavors may be........

TopJayhawk 7 years, 11 months ago

Hawkman. If you have EVER been to a bball game or a football game. You would know how stupid that is.
But rant on. Obama hasn't taken that right away from you yet.

TopJayhawk 7 years, 11 months ago

You guys are idiots. You have let your hatred of one man make you talk like morons. Get a grip.

greenworld 7 years, 11 months ago

So what's the big difference between him selling them as a business or if he were to sell them on ebay?? I mean give me a break.

bleavnkarma 7 years, 11 months ago

I would think Lew couldn't possible sleep at night over this one...But then again "lack of conscience" is it's own ambien. Karma is huge Lew! If I were you I'd save YOUR pennies for a rainy day! You will likely have a monsoon one day!

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