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Smack Apparel Loses Again


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Apologies if this is posted elsewhere. I'm not seeing it.

Court Upholds Ban on Unlicensed Use of College Colors

Colleges may want to use their school colors to generate additional revenue now that a federal appeals court has upheld a lower court?s decision that the unlicensed use of a college?s colors violates trademark law.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, considered a case brought against the Smack Apparel Company, of Tampa, Fla., by four institutions ? Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, Ohio State University, and the Universities of Oklahoma and of Southern California ? along with the Collegiate Licensing Company. The court ruled last week that Smack?s use of those universities? colors on its T-shirts could mislead consumers into thinking that the apparel was from the universities.

For example, a T-shirt design in Southern Cal?s trademark red and yellow that did not include the university?s name but referenced its national football championships and included the words ?SoCal? in a star design was found to be ?confusing? to consumers.

Full text of court decision - http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions%5Cpub...580-CV0.wpd.pdf

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It's kind of hard to believe that pairings of colors are beginning to be controllable. I have some Smack items and really like them, it's too bad big business has to prevail. No offense to any fans of those schools, but this is petty BS and I am sure it's not taking away from thses schools income from Nike and such.

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It's kind of hard to believe that pairings of colors are beginning to be controllable. I have some Smack items and really like them, it's too bad big business has to prevail. No offense to any fans of those schools, but this is petty BS and I am sure it's not taking away from thses schools income from Nike and such.

I could not disagree more.

It's not just the colors being controlled by the Universities, but the colors in context.

For example, a T-shirt design in Southern Cal?s trademark red and yellow that did not include the university?s name but referenced its national football championships and included the words ?SoCal? in a star design was found to be ?confusing? to consumers.

Emphasis mine, natch.

"Big business" didn't prevail. Anybody who cares about the concept of intellectual property did.

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It's kind of hard to believe that pairings of colors are beginning to be controllable. I have some Smack items and really like them, it's too bad big business has to prevail. No offense to any fans of those schools, but this is petty BS and I am sure it's not taking away from thses schools income from Nike and such.

I could not disagree more.

It's not just the colors being controlled by the Universities, but the colors in context.

For example, a T-shirt design in Southern Cal's trademark red and yellow that did not include the university's name but referenced its national football championships and included the words "SoCal" in a star design was found to be "confusing" to consumers.

Emphasis mine, natch.

"Big business" didn't prevail. Anybody who cares about the concept of intellectual property did.

Damn straight. I find it extremely hard to fault the schools here.

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I haven't yet read the ruling, but very possibly yes, if they can be confused with official university merchandise.

That wasn't the question here, though, so the ruling may not speak to your hypothetical.

EDIT: By my layman's (not to mention cursory) reading of the ruling, such t-shirts are indeed infringing upon the University's intellectual property. If the manufacturer intends to make customers associate the shirts with Florida State, which is obviously the point, then combining the color scheme with secondary mark may well be enough to cross the threshold.

Not as much a slam-dunk as Smack's infringement, but seems enough.

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So they guy selling those "Gator Hater" shirts that mentioned FSU in no way but was Garnet and Gold could be sued by FSU for copyright infringement?q

Theoretically, yes. Since that person is not trying to deceive consumers into believing that he's affiliated with FSU, they may not go after him as hard. They would have the right to, though.

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