Intellectual Property Attorney

University Of Texas Protects Trademarks Incorporating Coach’s Name

Around this time every year, there is invariably a large turnover in the coaching staffs of college and professional football teams, particularly with regard to the position of Head Coach. This year was no different, with at least seven NFL Head Coach positions, and multiple equivalent collegiate positions, changing hands. The University of Texas football team, for example, replaced their longtime coach with former Louisville Head Coach Charlie Strong.

As reported by the Associated Press through, the University of Texas has now taken steps to protect trademarks incorporating Coach Strong’s name. Shortly after he was hired, unauthorized merchandise utilizing the words “STRONGHORNS”, “TEXAS STRONG” and “UT STRONG” showed up online and in retail stores. Now, the University of Texas is attempting to eradicate such usage, sending cease and desist letters to demand the removal of such items from sale.

In addition to sending cease and desist letters, the University of Texas has also filed a trademark application for “STRONGHORNS” for various articles of clothing as well as for entertainment services. “STRONGHORNS”, of course, is a play on words combining Coach Strong’s name with the university’s famous “LONGHORNS” trademark. A trademark registration for “STRONGHORNS”, if granted, will strengthen the university’s ability to pursue third parties for trademark infringement.

For the University of Texas, this matter is big business. In 2013, the university earned $9 million in net revenue from trademark licensing. Not surprisingly given this number, the university has ranked number one in licensing revenue amongst colleges and universities over the past eight years.

Given the potential licensing opportunities, when a college or professional team thinks about hiring a new coach, it should also consider and protect the ancillary intellectual property rights, as the University of Texas has done in this case.

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