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Legal Case Brief

University of Kansas and Kansas Athletics, Inc., v. Larry Sinks et al. (collectively d/b/a/ Joe-College.com), 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23765 (D. Kan. 2008)

2008, 1, 378 – 383

The University of Kansas and its athletics department brought suit against Larry Sinks, a manufacturer and retailer of merchandise doing business as Joe-College. com. Joe-College.com sells merchandise that reference Kansas Athletics programs, including T-shirts with irreverent sayings, as well as references to drugs and alcohol. Plaintiffs allege that the defendant’s goods infringe the registered and unregistered trademarks of the University of Kansas, including its crimson and blue color scheme. The university asserted claims for trademark infringement, trademark dilution, and unfair competition. Approximately 140 T-shirt designs used by the defendant were at issue in the litigation. This case illustrates the expanding scope of protection afforded to trademarks in sport that are used to communicate and distinguish a particular team’s brand. The case also explores the viability of the First Amendment as a defense to trademark infringement for retailers who produce merchandise that allows sports fans to express their message.

Authors: John Grady

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