Hearne: “KU Boobs’ Bust a Sign of Big Time College Athletics Overreach

935409_548287428547269_1237079474_nEver see one of those tee shirts that read, U.S. Olympic Drinking Team?

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”

Sound familiar?

36934287_muck-fizzou-shirt-muck-fizzou-storeNot 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.

4842790790a6180956454lCase closed? Not quite.

“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.

Game over!

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.

Go figure.

joe-collegeHow bogus was it? Unimaginably so.

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.”

perkins200Talk about overreach…

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.

 

 

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17 Responses to Hearne: “KU Boobs’ Bust a Sign of Big Time College Athletics Overreach

  1. mouse says:

    The only reasonable response would be for everyone to stop buying their licensed crap. It’s tacky and just furthers their desire to exploit their legal monopoly. Unfortunately Kansans have nothing more to get excited about than two rival college sports teams.

    • admin says:

      You’re totally on to something.

      The standard issue KU fare is a bit uninspiring, boring even. Certainly it’s not for people who want to support KU but march to a slightly hipper, weirder drum beat.

      With some exceptions.

      Living here in Jayhawk Land, it’s pretty mundane and unoriginal to say the least. Almost like a uniform.

  2. the dude says:

    Jesus, what a load of total $hit. How do you trademark the words Kansas, 1865, Jayhawk, and Lawrence?? How the hell did a judge go along with this crap?
    Once again. goes to show that justice is for the A-holes with deep pockets.
    Little guy don’t get none.

    • the dude says:

      Files in the future, jesus these clowns are too much.
      Some of this crap would make Monsanto blush.

    • admin says:

      I hear ya, dude.

      It’s a massive case of overreach and the judge wouldn’t even hear any First Amendment arguments.

      I covered the entire trial and you had a load of hoosiers from Topeka sitting in the jury booth who didn’t know diddly about trademarks or trademark law.

      KU’s slick speaking lawyer from Atlanta was able to baffle them with bullshit and convince them that Joe-College was “beating his wife” – their job was to just pick out which of the beatings were most severe.

      They picked out a quarter of the shirts and threw out three fourths. Didn’t even make sense.

      For example they ruled that one “Our coach can eat your coach” was a trademark violation but “Our coach is phat” was good to go.

      Go figure.

      • the dude says:

        So, the lesson in this public flogging is to be sure to kneel at the KU altar and render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.

    • admin says:

      You’re right, the judge did go along with it. But it was a jury that did the honors. Pretty pathetic.

  3. smartman says:

    With better counsel Sinks might have lived to fight another day.

    His first salvo should have been to print a t-shirt that said Lew Perkins, BIG EGO small penis. Next one, Hey Bill! Nice Rug!

    Perhaps somewhere down the legal road this type of case will be tried again in a venue with a wiser group of participants.

    Cornpone hoosiers in the jury box made it a jury of “your peers” in Kansas.

    Even Raul and Fidel Castro think that Sinks got the blade on his turd knife dulled too much.

    Cute as the whole KU Boobs thing is, it really makes a mockery of the school as serious institution of higher learning, which is fine because it isn’t. KU lives and dies by basketball. That’s all that really matters in Lawrence.

    • admin says:

      Actually, the game here is to follow the money. And everybody in power that can play, gives the other players a pass, while the basketball-loving general public fiddles as – once again – Lawrence burns.

  4. smartman says:

    Irony being that all the money trickles up, directly or indirectly, from the basketball loving general public. Like the feds the athletic and academic administrations at KU seem to forget who they work for. They didn’t build that. The citizens of Kansas, KU alums and the fans did.

  5. Super Dave says:

    What a bunch of boobs

  6. harley says:

    All about the money. Gov. Brownback cut back the money for ku and now they need
    every dollar they can get. The administration is protecting the licensing rights and
    the property they legally hold.
    just like others can’t use the words “final four” or “march madness” …those are
    protected words by the ncaa for the making of big bucks and selling those
    phrases for big money. They’ll send you out a cease and desist order to keep
    you from using that in any advertising…same for “super bowl”.
    That’s justice boys…but as ku struggles with finances and making ends meet they
    need every buck they can get.
    Smartman’s right…ku is known for nothing but basketball. A good team but that
    ain’t gonna pay the bills. Seems like sinks was daring the boys at ku to do something
    because he was right in their face with those t shirts. Had he been in Wichita…
    or kc they might not have ever noticed what he wasdoing.
    Friends of mine who had worked with pro sport licensing said that while nfl
    …nba…nhl and some of the mbl (especially the apparel licensce) were very
    expensive the money for ncaa school license rights were pretty low. Why
    didn’t he pay them to use the names. I don’t know the case but could he have
    paid them the license fees and been within the law.
    Whats the deal with that mr. sinks?

    • admin says:

      Yeah, but H Man…the word Kansas and the color blue? Muck Fizzou? Anybody that KU plays that is a “rival”? The babysitter went to K-State?

      The buck stops where?

      • harley says:

        but H jr. ….I read the cost togeta license for someone selling
        licensed merchandise thruthe licensing agency guy was like
        $2000…wouldn’t the guy have been better off paying the
        licensing fee instead of fighting theseguys in court?
        the company thatlicenses ku merchandise has it laid out
        on their website and its not expensive so whyfight these
        guys…
        unless this sinks guy couldn’t sell his t shirts after paying the
        fees.
        why fight the ncaa and img…they’re billion dollar deals…
        they’re not going quietly and let someone ruin their
        rights to those logos.
        i’d like to hear sinks side of this story because its
        about business and whether the license would have
        saved him a lot of problems.

  7. cu_member says:

    …meanwhile during the fight against Joe College, something was going on in the ticket office and no one seemed to notice.

  8. the dude says:

    But Orange Bowls were being secured and KU was doing good at football for approximately two years. Once that honey hole dried up it was time to hang people from trees, didn’t matter who you were.

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