I always figured they were little more than crass college kid magnets, but saw enough of them around that somebody must have liked ’em.
Kinda like some of the shirts Joe-College.com in Lawrence was selling a few years back. They weren’t my cup of tea – “Muck Fizzou,” “Our Coach Can Eat Your Coach” and “My Babysitter Went to K-State,” but…
Hey, different strokes.
Enter the lovely, blue wristbands KU Boobs was selling for $5 until they got busted by the legal eagles that convinced KU to let them run Joe-College out of town. The wristbands read: “I ♥ KU Boobs”
Not that long ago, Joe-College main man Larry Sinks took a financial dirt bath, dropping hundreds of thousands of dollars defending himself against -not the University of Kansas – but its financially independent Athletics Department. The same folks who cut a check for $4,671,555 to athletics director Lew Perkins in 2009, and a going away payment of $2 million the following year.
All while tidying up deal that sealed Sinks’ lips for all time and effectively reversed a jury verdict that ruled that three quarters of the shirts Sinks sold were not in violation of KU’s trademarks. So after spending many more times the award amount defending himself, Sinks faced but a small, questionable penalty of $127,000.
“I’m sure KU feels like they’ve won the verdict but I feel like we won really,” Sinks said immediately afterwards. “If you cut it up into a pie we still have 75 percent of the pie…“Now we kind of have a parameter of what it is and we are ready to move forward.”
Sinks optimism however was short lived, after a federal judge bogusly ruled that he also had to pick up the athletics department’s legal fees in the amount of another $667,507.
The athletics department tightened the screws to make an example of Sinks, then let him off the hook, but only after forcing him to agree to never again publicly utter the words “Kansas” or “KU,” and agree not to manufacture even the shirts that the jury ruled did not violate KU’s trademarks.
Not only did the athletics department stick to its claim that people could not use the color blue and the word “Kansas” without paying KU, they widened their net to include a host of stuff that had nothing whatsoever to do with KU’s trademarks, starting with “Muck Fizzou.”
Check it out:
“In exchange for KU’s full release of the judgment – including the attorneys’ fee award – the defendants have agreed to a Consent Injunction and Settlement Agreement. That agreement stipulates that the defendants, or anyone acting at the direction of or in concert with the defendants, are permanently enjoined from ordering, producing, manufacturing, distributing, selling, offering for sale, advertising, promoting, licensing, or marketing:
• Any product listed on the verdict form, regardless whether the judge or jury found them to infringe or dilute;
• Any product licensed by KU;
• Any product that is red or blue (or red and blue) or that makes prominent use of the colors red or blue when combined with any of the words or symbols listed below which Defendants are prohibited from using, except as otherwise specifically permitted;
• Any product that bears any of the following words: KANSAS, KU, UNIVERSITY, JAYHAWK, JAYHAWKS, HAWK, HAWKS, CRIMSON, BLUE, KIVISTO, 1865, PHOG, or LAWRENCE, either separately or in combination with any other words or symbols, however, 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;
• Any product that bears the name, nickname, initials, image, likeness, jersey number or any other reference, including synonyms and homonyms, to any current or former student-athlete of KU, however, Defendants shall be permitted to utilize names which also happen to be the names of current or former student athletes of KU if the names are used in good faith and it is reasonably apparent that the names are used to identify or describe a person other than a current or former student athlete of KU;
• Any product that bears the name, nickname, initials, image, likeness, or any other reference, including synonyms and homonyms, to any current or former employee of KU, including but not limited to any coach, staff member, athletic director, administrator, or professor, however, Defendants shall be permitted to utilize names which also happen to be the names of current or former employees of KU if the names are used in good faith and it is reasonably apparent that the names are used to identify or describe a person other than a current or former employee of KU;
• Any product that bears the name, nickname, mascot, location of or any other reference to any rival school (including but not limited to any school in the Big XII) and including but not limited to the transposition or deletion of the letters of any such rival’s name, however, Defendants shall be permitted to utilize the name, nickname, mascot, location of or any other reference, including synonyms and homonyms, of schools which also happen to be the name of one of KU’s rival schools if the name is used in good faith and it is reasonably apparent that the name is used to identify or describe a school other than one of KU’s rival schools;
• Any product that bears a design, graphic, or image that is identical or similar to any of KU’s design trademarks, derivations of any design trademarks, current or future buildings on KU’s campus, or other KU landmarks;
• Any product that bears the name, nickname, or reference, including synonyms and homonyms, to the geographic location of a collegiate sporting event in which KU is a participant or an event that is located in KU-owned facilities, including but not limited to the name of any stadium, arena, championship, playoff, or bowl game, however, Defendants shall be permitted to utilize the words “Lawrence” and “Kansas” as set forth in Paragraph 1(d), above, and shall be permitted to use utilize the name of a geographic location which happens also to be the location of a collegiate sporting event in which KU is a participant if the name is used in good faith and it is reasonably apparent that the name is used to identify a non-KU related event or business;
• Any product that bears any marks that are the subject of federal or state applications or registrations that KU now owns or files in the future; and
• Any product that bears any design, word, mark, or feature that is confusingly similar to any of the products above.”
To the KU athletics department, even addressing a “rival school” is a trademark no-no.
In other words, no fair bagging on Roy Williams, North Carolina or those loveable losers from Missouri who bailed for the SEC. Because that would quite obviously infringe on KU’s trademarks and they might not be capable of writing $4 million-plus checks every year to people like Perkins and basketball coach Bill Self.
The amusing thing about all this – once you get over the athletics department having ruined a successful local business man and torn apart his family – is the department’s comment this week about not having a problem with “KU Boobs,” just its selling merchandise.
Kinda like it not having a problem with “Muck Fizzou.”
As for Sinks, his take on the man handling of KU Boobs:
“All I can tell you is I love boobs,” he says dryly.