1.22.2007

UT QBs in short supply. UT Lawyers not so much

Saw 'em Off


The University of Texas is suing Aggieland Outfitters, alleging that AO's "Saw 'em Off" logo "..is likely to cause confusion, to cause mistake, or to deceive customers".

While it's debatable who first (and when) visually depicted what "Saw Varsity's Horns Off.." would look like, Aggieland Outfitters was the first to standardize the image and sell it on t-shirts back in 1997. Since then, the logo's popularity has exploded and is almost considered a secondary logo for Texas A&M:

the FTAB Saws em Off
the image is so popular that even the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band will bust it out every once in a while.


J-Train, shortly before sawing em off for real


a lot of people from other schools think that's a "horns down", it's actually the horns sawed off.

Rev Saw Em Off
Both my favorite Texas shirt and proof that not only has UT been keenly aware of the logo, they've been playing along too.

The lawsuit against the decade old logo was filed Dec. 4th, 2006. That's right, a week after the Aggies beat the Longhorns 12-7 in Austin.

You decided what's worse:

Late Hit on McCoy

Or

Trying to put a family out of business because your team got embarassed by the school you like to pretend isn't a rival anymore


If UT was truly interested in protecting its trademark, it would be filing lawsuits against the likes of:



City of Fort Worth
the city of Fort Worth


Microsoft Windows Longhorn
Microsoft



inverted longhorn

OU shirt vendors



Leonard Middle School
hundreds of schools around the state of Texas




While Seattle fans may be taking much pleasure from this debacle, I think most reasonable sports fans see this action as fairly childish and to be honest, very opposite of the carefully constructed image of We're Texas (and stupidly arrogant).

Whether you hate Texas, support A&M, or just can't stand bullies, stop by AggielandOutfitters.com and buy one of their new shirts (below) inspired by the lawsuit OR tell everyone you know about the story. The more negative publicity for UT that is generated, the less inclined they'll be to continue with the lawsuit.

The shirt says it all:


update (10:34PM): to all the anonymous horns comparing this case to the Ft. Worth case or the Seattle/12th Man case. What Aggieland Outfitters is doing is called Parody and has been upheld by the Supreme Court for the past two decades. As a Professor of Trademark Law, Louis T. Pirkey (UT's lawyer) should know better. Either Pirkey shouldn't be teaching at such a prestigious law school, or UT was counting on hollow intimidation to get what it wanted.

HT: The Battalion

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yeah that's about as petty as filing a law suit against The Seattle Seahawks for use of the 12th man

Brian said...

Yeah Brad, just a little case of the pot calling the kettle black here.

Trademark law sucks. If you don't vigorously defend your trademark you lose it. That leads to awesome, I mean frivolous, lawsuits such as these.

Brian said...

I do like that all the t-shirts in the store depict your rival instead of your own school. Typical Aggies.

Willy Mac said...

That's lame on the part of UT. And all three of these hose hounds above me are comparable to Gamecock fans. THE HIT WAS LEGAL, MCCOY IS A PUSSY, AGS WON, HORNS LOST. GET THE F*CK OVER IT ALREADY.

Willy Mac said...

Sorry, just realized there were only two hose hounds. Also, I guess UT would also have to sue Mauldin High School, a school just down the road from Greenville, SC for using there logo w/ out permission.http://www.greenville.k12.sc.us/mauldinh/

Brad said...

Brian,

i think it's more like the pot calling the fridge black. they're both in the kitchen, but completely different in practice.

Willy Mac,

always good to know the DFIG's got our back.

It's a little wierd to know that kids in south carolina had to grow up with that mascot too. But i guess, the mere mention of "cock" near an elementary school could have apocalyptic consequences.

Anonymous said...

Get your own trademarks and stop using ours. I'm sure you guys can still get the trademark for "racist inbred hick".

Anonymous said...

The 12th man lawsuit was much more ignorant. Seattle had retired the number 12 in 1984 because their fans were the 12th man. They rise a 12th man flag before every game. That lawsuit was all about publicity because they waited until Seattle made the Super Bowl just to try to get their name out there. Very pathetic.

The fact that a section of some Aggie store has anti-Texas shirts is pathetic as well. Greatest case of penis envy on the face of the planet.

Is it really surprising that someone would go after someone who is not only violating a trademark but disrespecting it as well BEFORE going after someone who is just violating its use?

I used to enjoy this blog from an Aggie perspective because it was sensical and didn't rally around retarded traditions(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-hxgh37o6I) that embarass the state of Texas. Perhaps that is the sole purpose for the We're Texas campaign to prevent people from other states from judging all Texans by the idiocracy of a few.

j mayer said...

While the timing of the suit was seemingly bad, I doubt that the UT lawyers built up a case in less than a week because of a loss in a football game. That's a pretty naive assumption.

Plus, the city of Fort Worth had to agree to make their logo brown and always put the words "Fort Worth" above it when the city first unveiled it. I'm not sure about the other logos.

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth. I remembered this from a few years back.

http://media.www.thebatt.com/media/storage/paper657/news/2001/08/30/NewsInBrief/Fort-Worths.Logo.Too.Similar.To.Uts.BurntOrange.Bevo-471442.shtml?sourcedomain=www.thebatt.com&MIIHost=media.collegepublisher.com

Willy Mac said...

folks, we're looking a little too far into this. This is just college football and a funny little thing that TAMU does to rile UT. It needs to be left at that. The fact that UT is even pursuing this is ludicrous and is going to cause so much paperwork... the lawyering and court time would be better spent putting deserved criminals behind bars. Oh, and A&M has always been the 12th man, even before Seattle, so get over it you sourpusses.

Anonymous said...

Um, Mr. Willy Mac - there's a difference between civil and criminal court. Not a single lawyer or court involved in these civil proceedings will affect the state's abilities to investigate, arrest, or prosecute criminals.

Willy Mac said...

Go f*ck yourself. My point being that court time could be put to better use. Quit hiding behind the handle of anonymous.

j mayer said...

Protecting a trademark is a legitimate use of court resources. Now you can argue the merits of this case (fair use doctrine, First Amendment rights, etc.), but there are certainly legal arguments to be made on both sides here. Were it not for the unfortunate timing of the case (again, I suspect this is mere coincidence considering how long it takes to put together a lawsuit), I think we would be talking about the true issues at play here rather than suspicion of sour grapes.

Anonymous said...

UT has lawyers that handle this type of issue just like every other school and company in the nation.

They have gone after trademark infringements in the past including a restaurant named BEVO's in Austin and even those street vendors/ Sooners from the north. No Sooner outlet actually sells such shirts and when they have online, you guessed it, UT has prosecuted.

This may sound ridiculous to you but the Longhorn logo is often voted the best in college sports and is worth millions. If a&m had such a trademark they would protect it with such vigor as well. Unfortunately for them, no one really cares about the logo and UT fans don't waste their time cheering against another school instead of their own. Sure we may talk shit and respond to blogs like this but we don't do anti-aggie things or sing about a&m when we play ou / tech do we?

From a legal perspective the city of Ft. Worth is different enough to get away with their logo.

Finally, it is not only your t-shirt vendors that are not allowed to print the logo. Not a single t-shirt company in Austin will print anything close to a longhorn or any other UT trademark symbol on any merchandise without expressed written consent from The University. Often the city takes up such merchandise when people try to sell unofficial shirts around campus before games.

So in closing, the famous question has to be asked. If the tables were reversed what would you do? ….the 12th man case says you'd do the same thing.

Christian said...

Think that's bad? This guy's whole head looks like the UT logo...

Anonymous said...

you seriously think you know trademark law better than a University of Texas law professor who teaches TRADEMARK LAW?

parody has never been fully protected, especially when the primary aim of that parody is commercial and not artistic. i think i'm going to trust the law professor over the blogger on this one.

even a&m officials are saying they would have done the same thing if it had been them: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/chronicle/4491417.html

Willy Mac said...

SUE THE BULL! Btw, nobody likes a UT fan except for... you guessed it... a UT fan. UT fans must protect the logo so fiercely because its the only connection that MOST UT fans have with the school. The same fans would also do the same for the DUKE/UNC logos from November through March.

Anonymous said...

I think that generating publicity under these circumstances is comparable to an attorney being an ambulance chaser. Having graduated from A&M it is plain to see that this person is trying to draw attention to himself. I think that he needs a little more self esteem.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,
Seattle's use of "The 12th Man" logo was a direct copy of our trademarked logo, where the "saw 'em off" T-shirts are a parody, much like the movie spaceballs is to starwars (should George Lucas file a lawsuit against Mel Brooks?) these are two very different things. Also the aggie tradition of the 12th man goes waaaay back before 1984, and the timing of the lawsuit against the Seahawks was because of the elevated publicity that the SEAHAWKS were getting with our logo, what was once not a big deal, all of the sudden became a threat when everyone in Seattle was waving a 12th man flag on national TV. Besides, what benefit would there be for us to gain publicity by suing someone? That's bad publicity. Anyway thats all I have to say about that.

Signed, Aggie-Anonymous (Rick)

Jordan said...

This is a late comment to this post I know, and I'm not defending UT or calling A&M equals in this ridiculous case.

1. Brian is right about trademark law.
2. UT has no shame in tearing down mom-and-pop shops... I remember they did it to an austin-based restaurant called Bevo Grill back my freshman year for use of Bevo and the longhorn logo.
3. The other recent suits that are listed in the Daily Texan are proof that UT sues fairly often to defend their patents and trademarks.
4. They file suits they are ready to win. This is likely the reason behind the delay in filing, but no doubt being filed so close to the loss to A&M means it was not a complete coincidence.

Say what you want about being sore losers, but know that Aggies, over the past 4 years at least, haven't been all that graceful either.

you're so indie said...

this is awesome, brad. i need to get one of those shirts.

let's hang out soon!

Anonymous said...

Quick comment about the 12th man lawsuit. We had persued seatle for about 3 years to stop using the 12th Man. When you are getting so much publicity for someone else's thing, you are going to want to defend, which also works kind of for ut. As for the timing, after that loss, they should at least thought about the timing of bringing out the lawsuit might hurt them a little, its not like they couldn't wait until after the football season or something else. But then also, it would seem like they wrote it up right after the loss, so they just had horrible timing, and should have tried to do it a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

By the way...UT CAN'T sue any state government entity for patent/copyright/trademark infringement b/c of a case called College Savings Bank v. Florida Prepaid...if you're interested...go look it up. Basically, there's a loophole that says if you are going to sue for infringement, it must be in federal court...however, the 11th amendment says that state entities can only be sued in STATE court. Well, State entities are IMMUNE from suits unless they give you permission to sue them...well, they haven't given people permission to sue, so they are basically untouchable.

Also, aggieland outfitters BEST argument is that UT waited too long to file the suit and are therefore barred from suing (defense is called "laches"). However, UT could counter this argument and say that aggieland can't use the defense b/c they incorporated the design in "bad faith", which precludes them from bringing in an equitable defense (laches).

Check out www.rivalwear.com for some great shirts.

Anonymous said...

Good points anonymous...clearly you are in the legal field. I myself am a law student. My question is, is Aggieland Outfitters classified as a state government entity?
Assuming arguendo that the University of Tennessee's colors are trademarked, could they not be doing the same thing? After all, they were founded before UT.
I think UT has the right to defend their logo, but I agree that the suit should have been brought a long time ago. The shirts have been sold for upwards of 15 years, and it's not like they just suddenly became all the rage, which distinguishes this from the 12th man lawsuit. I agree that you can't build up a lawsuit like this in 10 days, but it doesn't take 15 years either...