You Can't Be A Fan Of University Of Cincinnati's Sports Teams Unless You've Paid The Proper License

from the don't-wear-red-and-black dept

In response to our recent post about whether or not a company like Black & Decker could legally resell sporting event tickets without being an "official sponsor" of the event, Public Citizen's Paul Alan Levy wrote about how it wasn't that long ago that anyone could make their own fan gear. And then greed set in:
The case is reminiscent of a revenue grab by sports teams in the 1980's. At one time, anybody could make up a shirt that said "Dallas Cowboys" or "Boston Red Sox", and then wear it or sell it. The fans wearing those shirts didn't care one whit about whether the Cowboys or Red Sox made the shirt or had taken a cut of the shirt-makers' revenue. But Major League Baseball and the National Football League, armed with surveys created by consumer survey expert Jacob Jacoby, started filing lawsuits claiming that some minority of fans would automatically assume that the Cowboys or Red Sox had endorsed or at least approved of the shirt sellers. By winning a couple of cases, they created a new rule of law -- you can't sell shirts showing support for a team without paying the team off for the privilege of doing so.
That has since expanded further and further, including college sports teams as well. Reader Sys Admin alerts us to a story out of Cincinnati, where the University of Cincinnati is being so aggressive in enforcing these sorts of claims that it says pretty much any type of clothing that might be mistaken as supporting the team (t-shirts with red and black? watch out...) it needs a license. The University says it doesn't matter if the University's name or logo isn't on the clothing at all. Even a shirt that says "Go Cats!" needs a license. Even worse, they're not just looking to stop people from selling such clothing, they're happily putting them in jail for it.

Be careful what teams you cheer for, and what color clothes you wear when you do...
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Filed Under: colors, fans, sporting events, trademark, university of cincinnati


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  1. icon
    isaac Kotlicky (profile), 7 Jan 2010 @ 6:39am

    I smell a franchise opportunity...

    OO! Create disclaimer T-Shirts that specifically state that the team does not endorse this fan T-shirt:
    * This t-shirt is not endorsed by XXX University
    * This t-shirt is not endorsed by XXX Band
    * This t-shirt is not endorsed by XXX Company

    in BIG contrasting letters right in the front in order to avoid confusion. That way, nobody can claim false endorsement.

    Then we can add an optional clause on the back:
    XXX Team/University/Band/Company were/are idiots for punishing their fans.

    Or something.

    DIBS! So don't you all be stealing my idea. ;)

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