KU Wins $127K in Lawsuit Over Unlicensed Shirts

The University of Kansas is having a great year. Their football team won the Orange Bowl. Their basketball team won the national championship. And now the icing on the cake - the school has just won a lawsuit over a local t-shirt seller.

Kansas drinking shirt

THE WIZARD OF ODDS points us to a story in the KANSAS CITY STAR, where a federal jury awarded KU $127,000 in damages from Joe-College.com. The college contends that the store was selling unlicensed Kansas merchandise. Although the store says it will remain in business, neither side seems too happy about the ruling:

The award was about a fourth of what KU had sought, and the jury said about three-fourths of the shirts sold by Joe-College.com did not violate any trademark. And some of those shirts have the word “Kansas” on them.

One of the store’s owners said that KU offered them a chance at “some stupid settlement”, adding that the school was “asking for more money than the store has made since it opened in 2006.”

The University of Kansas contends that Joe-College.com is selling merchandise with words like “Kansas” and “Hawk” on blue T-shirts that infringe on the school’s trademarks. But Joe-College doesn’t believe you can trademark a state’s name or color, and owners say they make sure that customers of the store and Web site know the shirts are not approved or connected to the university.

But the keen minds at Joe-College know when to turn a legal loss into another merchandise opportunity, as the store is now selling “Unlicensed” shirts. We’re guessing sales of these shirts go toward the store’s legal fees.

And it’s not like the site is selling these shirts.