Archive for Friday, March 26, 2010 to close Wednesday as settlement talks continue with KU, Kansas Athletics

Larry Sinks, owner of, is pictured in front of his store Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008. Sinks has been in and out of the news because of his legal battles with Kansas University over licensing issues involving his t-shirts.

Larry Sinks, owner of, is pictured in front of his store Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008. Sinks has been in and out of the news because of his legal battles with Kansas University over licensing issues involving his t-shirts.

March 26, 2010

Advertisement, a T-shirt business whose unlicensed merchandise has riled officials at Kansas Athletics Inc. and Kansas University, will close Wednesday.

Local t-shirt shop to close

Joe College, which has been to court with KU Athletics regarding the legality of some of its shirts, will close on Wednesday. Enlarge video

Joe-College owner Larry Sinks confirmed Friday that both the store at 734 Mass. and its online operation would be out of business at the end of this month.

He declined to discuss reasons for the closure, referring questions to his attorney, Jim Tilley, who also declined to provide details.

Tilley did say that settlement negotiations were ongoing with Kansas Athletics and KU regarding legal matters.

"We have no comment on that," said Jim Marchiony, an associate athletics director.

Kansas Athletics and KU sued Sinks and Joe-College in federal court, securing a judgment in July 2008 that prevents 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,” and an illustration of sperm cells.

As part of that case Joe-College retained permission to print other shirts — “Kansas Drinking Team,” “Muck Fizzou” and “Hawk Star” among them — but was ordered to pay Kansas Athletics $127,000 in damages, plus at least $667,000 in attorney’s fees.

Joe-College has appealed various components in the case, including the amount of legal fees owed. This past September, after learning that he would be responsible for paying such fees, Sinks said that he wasn’t sure what effect the decision would have on his business.

“I don’t have it (the money), I can tell you that,” he said at the time.


hail2oldku 8 years ago

You don't tug on superman's cape, you don't spit into the wind, you don't pull the mask off the lone ranger & you don't mess around with Lew and his money.

Tough way to learn the lesson Larry. Should have paid the licensing fees like the other t-shirt vendors in town instead of trying to hang on to that extra buck or two per shirt.

BruceWayne 8 years ago

Mark- why would you include a link to his web site? make them pay for advertising like everyone else.

hail2oldku 8 years ago

He's just helping with the fire sale batman.

freighttrain221 8 years ago

The "Cole 45" shirt in the photo sums it up. No regard was given to copyrights or trademarks. Poor business ethics brought this about. And, yes, colors can be legally protected. Any jewelry store that sold goods in robin's egg blue boxes would be sued by Tiffany. An insulation company that manufactured pink insulation would be sued by Owens-Corning. A shipping company that used dark brown trucks would be sued by UPS. Those companies have legal rights to their colors. My question is, what will he do with the money that the students raised for him last month?

mobyrock 8 years ago

Bruce- I believe is the actual registered name of the business.

sad_lawrencian 8 years ago

Apparently KU can't take a joke, doesn't have a sense of humor. These t-shirts were fun. Mr. Sinks and his company added some mystique to Lawrence. Sad to see him go.

One thing I've noticed since I moved to Lawrence in 2008 is the enormous amount of power and influence wielded by Lew Perkins. It's off-putting to read all these stories about him in the newspaper.

Maybe Mr. Sinks can find a new niche selling t-shirts and other apparel that don't reference KU. There might be room for him in this local economy if he leaves the blue t-shirts out of it.

BigAl 8 years ago

I enjoyed the Joe College shirts as much as the next guy. But, there is little doubt that they were infringing on copyright and trademark laws. KU had to take action. Joe.College was taking advantage over the stores that were selling authorized t-shirts and paying the trademark fees. Don't blame KU for following the law. This all lies squarely on Sinks for trying his best to circumvent the law.

hbjayhawk 8 years ago

Too bad these shirts are being made/sold and mass produced by illegal aliens in my town and sold to fans at the local swapmeet. HAHAHA! Lew and KU have no jurisdiction our here and these folks made $400+ day selling these collegiate novelties. My favorite was "tebag tebow." HAHAHA

BabyBear 8 years ago

maybe larry should print one about all of the illegal sale of basketball tickets. I'd buy one that said FU KU or screw Lou

BlackVelvet 8 years ago

and don't forget Lew's war against the ticket scalpers! He would much prefer you turn in any unused tickets back to KUAC, so THEY can re-sell them......greed...plain and simple.

William Pike 8 years ago

Sounds like there is an opportunity to open a new t-shirt business in Lawrence, (BloCollege SchmoCollege) and sounds like there is a guy that needs a job that would make a good manager. (This place made a ton of cash for a t shirt vendor)

BigAl 8 years ago

wpike.... and that ton of cash is being paid right back out in fines and legal fees. Like it or not, Sinks broke the law and now he has to pay.

denak 8 years ago

Although the lawsuit probably helped it along a bit, we don't know if it was the sole reason this store is closing. I have lived here in Lawrence for over a decade, and it seems that most stores don't make it downtown for more than a few years. Add in the sky high rent and the economy, and this store could be just another failed business thanks to the recession.

kansasredlegs 8 years ago

Despite the fact that a jury found for KU, it did not find violations for each and every t-shirt Big Lew and boys said were in violation. KU does own the right to it's made up noncolor wheel blue and it's $90,000 "K" & "U" but it does not own Hayne's off-the-rack blue.

REMEMBER WHAT WAS REPORTED: Some shirts that were seen as offensive were tossed by the jury while others weren't. "Our Coach Beat Anorexia" was allowed, but "Our Coach Can Eat Your Coach" was determined to be infringing. --- HOW DO YOU FIGURE THIS LOGIC?

And the jury allowed "Muck Fizzou," which KU claimed tarnished its image. -- QUANTRILL & HIS MURDERERS BURNED LAWRENCE, so MUCK FIZZOU!!

Marchiony said he was disappointed the jury didn't weigh in favor of KU on that one. --- SAME GUY WHO WATERED DOWN OUR BORDER WAR INTO A BORDER SHOWDOWN... BTW: What the heck is a SHOWDOWN - Marchiony must be from back East, it's a war, don't forget it!!! Stop casting aside our traditions for your political correctness... As a veteran I take great umbrage with you watering down the traditions that soldiers, sailors and airmen fight to preserve. It's a disgrace and a bow-down to Dr. Pepper and the money and a direct slap in the face of those who served and serve.

"Obviously we would rather that shirt not be in the marketplace, I'm not going to pretend otherwise," he said. "I guess there will always be a market for tasteless shirts." --- THOSE SHIRTS ARE PURCHASED BY THOSE FOR WHOM KU WAS ESTABLISHED - THEY'RE CALLED STUDENTS... SO BY MARCHIONY'S REASONING, KU HAS TASTELESS AND CLASSLESS STUDENTS.

7texdude 8 years ago

You are right on some of your points kansasredlegs, but KU does have a lot of classless and tasteless students. Every school does. An example would be, Rip his hucking fead off chant at kickoffs. That is so classy and tasteful.

cowboy 8 years ago

I would suspect that after his second business has closed he will morph back again with a borderline illegal operation.

JDiesel04 8 years ago

Yes, some of these shirts are tastless and aren't needed, but isn't that what makes college, college? They were creative and different from the standard KU lettering and picture of a Jayhawk! Sad to see the store go, everytime I see one of these shirts and read them it makes me laugh!

whats_going_on 8 years ago

Hmmmm, KU in legal actions for screwing Williams Fund members out of money, and trying to screw a small business for a ton of money, at the same time. Ironic. Money hungry much?

pfunk81 8 years ago

^ this, what goes around comes around.

JackKats 8 years ago

You can copyright colors as Pantone has done for years. But in the case of KU they have not copyrighted or correctly trademarked the colors they use. IN FACT KU is in violation of Pantone’s copyright and has infringed on Pantone’s trademark. The Pantone Matching System is copyrighted and the specific color number, formulation and color cannot be renamed as KU has done. They are hypocrites at best when they claim the blue and red for themselves. (And do not properly identify Pantone as required by Pantone Inc. ) See this from KU's website: “The official University of Kansas blue is referred to as KU Blue PANTONE (PMS) 293.” (More info is on the link given above proving the gross infringement on Pantone’s trademark and copyright.) In no way does Pantone approve the use of the abbreviation PMS (Pantone Matching System) for an abbreviation as KU has done in the website above. For Pantones Usage rules see the following. Page five describes the explicit ways in which Pantone must be represented and also that Pantone must give written permission to use it names. Hey KU can you produce the written permission or a document stating you have Pantone’s permission? Are you not in fact in violation of Pantone’s rights of usage? Are you representing Pantone Inc as they have outlined they should be represented when they are referred to as a color standard?

JackKats 8 years ago

KU is in direct violation of the following Usage Rules linked to above: 7. Commercial/Corporate Naming: It is not permissible to use any of Pantone, Inc.’s trademarks including PANTONE, as all or part of a corporate name, Internet domain name, or a d/b/a for its business, or in any other manner as may give the impression that Pantone, Inc. ‘s trademarks are the property of your company. In addition, no words, symbols or logos shall be conjoined with Pantone, Inc’s trademarks so as to create a unified commercial impression. (See page 2 for approved abbreviations, page 6 and on for copyrights) So in review, 1) KU was suing Larry saying that they had exclusive rights to the Pantone Blue which Pantone has copyrighted and KU is in violation if Pantone Inc’s usage rules. 2) Pantone sells its own rights to colors with specific numbers, the color and formula along with approved CMYK, RGB and other color replications. These three components (number, color and formula) in conjunction with one another signify a particular color and this in turn is copyrighted. KU claims Pantone’s 293 Blue as their own. 3) In addition KU has infringed on the trademark of Pantone by conjoining its name with Pantone and Pantone Inc’s copyrighted colors.

JackKats 8 years ago

In addition the color guide for Pantone Inc, states this: The colors shown in this guide are for color reference only. Match to PANTONE® color standards for accuracy. PANTONE® is the property of Pantone Inc. Pantone asserts that their list of color numbers and values is the intellectual property of Pantone and free use of the list is not allowed. What hypocrites KU! I doubt seriously that Pantone will sue them but KU is still in violation all the same they accuse of Larry. And as a footnote I will add this. IF KU in fact wanted to copyright the blue and red they could get corporate licensing as have other corporations but it would have to be unique to KU. Coke red is copyright as is Bank America Blue and Red as are many other corporate colors. But the same rules would apply as Pantone applies to its copyright of colors which includes the name, color and formulation in conjunction with one another as a complete unit and a unique color. The colors would have to be individually licensed for reproduction in print as spot colors, process printing (CMYK), textiles (dye), web (RGB) and each of the different mediums that KU would want to get licensed. Maybe it is just easier to sue a local business to assure usage rules are followed instead of following the rules themselves. KU, please remove the beam out of your own eye after you have removed the mote out of your brothers eye. Hypocrite!!!!!

Evan Ridenour 8 years ago

JackKats, you have an utter lack of understanding of copyright and trademark law.

Douglas Redding 8 years ago

The only reasonable comments are from kansasredlegs and JDiesel04. The majority of what's left said are the usual lacking of pity or compassion that defines our local vox populi.

cowboy 8 years ago

This is the second biz that this clown has lost due to his complete lack of ethical behavior.

Too Bad So Sad loser

cowboy 8 years ago

This is the second biz that this clown has lost due to his complete lack of ethical behavior.

Too Bad So Sad loser

johnboy83 8 years ago

I didn't see anything wrong with the shirts. i thought they were funny. I would wear one that said screw Lou

Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 8 years ago

JackKats, KU explicitly gives credit to Pantone numerous times on its website regarding color usage.

JackKats 8 years ago

Kam and Eride. They are in violation. Read the explicit instructions Pantone sets out on the use of their name. KU is not in compliance. They call the color "KU Blue PMS 293 Blue" which is in a direct violation. Check out the link to Pantone.

JackKats 8 years ago

From KU's Website on Stationary:

"Stationery is printed with either the two-color KU signature, using KU blue (PMS 293) and KU gray (PMS 430), or with the three-color Jayhawk, using KU blue (PMS 293), crimson (PMS 186), and yellow (PMS 116), plus KU gray (PMS 430) as a fourth color"

This violates Pantone usage rules/ . KU has not properly used Pantones name (trademark violation) and also have called Pantone 293 Blue "KU Blue" (copyright violation).

I personally don't care what KU does and it has no effect on my life, but it just irks me to no end when I see such hypocrisy.

lawthing 8 years ago

Sounds the like the Jury were actually covert Jayhawks getting the unaccounted for scalped tickets!

Mystery solved!

Its all about the.............. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

rbwaa 8 years ago

so, what if sinks copyrights the shirts that were allowed by the court, opens a new business and prints them on an obnoxious color like lime green or neon yellow, or better yet shocking pink?

somebodynew 8 years ago

If you want to read about $$$$$$$$ and B$g Lew, check out the article in today's (Sat) KC Star.!!!

rbwaa 8 years ago

or even purple passion? or just plain white?

mr_right_wing 8 years ago

Sometimes Goliath does defeat David.

Cooky_the_Cook 8 years ago

JackKats, you have an utter lack of understanding of copyright and trademark law.

Don Whiteley 8 years ago

So what if some of the t-shirts Larry sold were tasteless. 98% of all college students are tasteless, or too drunk to know if they have taste or not. Maybe the next t-shirt should say "Uck UNI", or "Bucknell, Bradley, and UNI - Names that make KU Blue turn Yellow" or " Be very, very afraid of Slippery Rock"

Tristan Moody 8 years ago

JackKats apparently does not know the difference between copyright and trademark. You cannot copyright a color, but you can declare the use of a specific color, within a specific context, as a trademark. KU's use of Pantone's colors do not infringe on Pantone's trademarks, as KU is not in the color matching business, and Pantone is not in the education business. If trademark law were as JackKats said, then Pantone could not possibly hope to get any business, because anyone who buys their ink would be infringing.

fcoughlin 8 years ago

Hey, the Save Our Schools people think they have all the answers. The acronym works; Sink our Sink.

2002 8 years ago

This guy is getting support? Unbelievable! By cheating he has an unfair advantage over other businesses that don't cheat. The dude has no ethics.

I put him in the same class as the business owner in the 70's that was "unfortunate" to have his business burn multiple times.

KSAuburnFan 8 years ago

I really don't have a dog in the fight here, I have never owned a JoeCollege T-shirt, but from where I stand the law is the law. No matter how low and petty people see KU for suing Mr. Sinks, they did what they did and the law prevailed. One might think it is stupid to have to drive 70 MPH on the Interstate, but it is the law, dumb or not. If you break it, and are caught, you pay for your mistake. Mr. Sinks broke the law, was caught and now is forced to pay for his mistake. I have a hard time feeling sorry for someone who isn't willing to follow the rules--NO MATTER HOW STUPID PEOPLE THINK THEY ARE--rules are rules, follow them or pay the price. I know this is going to cost Mr. Sinks alot of money and he has lost his business which I hope he is able to recover and find something to do to make money, but there are stores up and down Mass that aren't closing doors because they FOLLOW THE LAW. I wish Mr. Sinks the best going forward, but if he would have just followed the rules in the first place, he wouldn't be going through this. It doesn't get any more simple than that.

Steve Miller 8 years ago

who cares he brkoe the rules, now pay up ...

JackKats 8 years ago

Check out this link and read the document. KU is in violation of the usage rules. And Pantone colors and formulations are protected under copyright laws. KU puts the formulation of the colors on their site and refers the colors as "KU" colors.

They do infringe on the trademarks of Pantone. as well as copyright violations.

SW, are you saying that KU is not in violation of the same rules that they were accusing Joe Collge of? This is the point I am trying to make and show in the links I have provided.

lounger 8 years ago

K.U. is a monster corp. Plain and simple. Wicked. Sorry small fella no mercy.

Robert Rauktis 8 years ago

I wonder what that federal judge was allowed on the tickets /points scale? The one who sits with big Lew at the bball games?

Bruce Bertsch 8 years ago

JackKats...I can assure you that the licensing folks at KAI have the permission of Pantone to reference their colors. If you ask, they will grant it. You reference the rules for those who do not have permission.

Richard Payton 8 years ago

Just announced: New Dr. Seuss Books titled: 1. Who Knew Lew would sue? 2. Lew Blue who? 3. Feds find few clues from Lew? LOL just having some fun at everyones expense.

corduroypants 8 years ago

Jackkats going through PMS right now. And I don't mean Pantone Matching System.

TheOriginalCA 8 years ago

I understand that people grow up after high school. I have always been astounded at what wonderful people old high school jerks can turn in to. I am not calling Larry a jerk by any means, but I am not surprised that Larry did not respect proper licensing. Having said that, yeh, KUAD is full of jerks, although they DID give Larry plenty of opportunities to comply. The KUAD needs to realize that when people want to buy the best looking KU stuff, they will pay what most people can't afford and buy the expensive licensed stuff. When they want something cheap or funny, they will go to Joe College.

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