University Of Miami Demanding ESPN Documentary About University Of Miami Football Remove Its Logo

from the trademark-law-gone-mad dept

We've talked a lot recently about how universities greatly abuse trademark law to prevent anyone else from doing things with their logo -- which, in the past, had been considered perfectly legal. The latest such case comes to us from Copycense, who points us to the news that, according to Billy Corben, the director of The U, a documentary about the rise of the University of Miami football team that aired on ESPN, the University is demanding that its logo be removed from the DVD case. It sounds like Corben is complying with the demand, but it's difficult to see how the University has a legitimate complaint here. The move is, literally, about the University of Miami. This seems like a perfect case of trademark "fair use," but fighting that battle is probably too expensive to make it worthwhile. And that's too bad, as it seems like another case of abusing trademark law for reasons that have nothing to do with the law's purpose.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2010 @ 3:43am

    Bah

    Actually, it seems that CLC or The Collegiate Licensing Company is the designated licensing agent, for U Miami, among other colleges. Also, ESPN is listed as having two other licenses for baseball caps and "other head-wear".

    http://www6.miami.edu/UMH/CDA/UMH_Main/0,1770,25250-1;25245-3,00.html

    Below is a typical fee schedule involved in becoming a licensee through CLC, and it seems this fee schedule is applied on a per-item basis.

    - Application Fee ($50 - $250 range)
    - Annual Administrative Fees ($0-$250)
    - Advance Royalty Fees ($0 - $1,000)
    - Obtain $1,000,000 in Product Liability Insurance ($100's-$1,000)
    - Marketing Costs (trade shows, catalogs, web sites, etc.)
    - Product Development Costs (design, development, obtaining digital artwork ($50 - $500)
    - Sample Production & Approval Costs (the cost of producing samples and obtaining approvals occurs online, so you must have an Internet connection).


    This level of protectionism may only serve to send a clear signal that University of Miami and (more likely) it's designated licensing agent, CLC, may have lofty fee schedule expectations, slow approvals process, and/or be difficult to get creative approvals, even for respected and well established licensors. Too bad.

     

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  2.  
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    John Doe, Oct 7th, 2010 @ 4:24am

    Go HOKIES!

    Just had to get that in there.

     

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  3.  
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    kimchi (profile), Oct 7th, 2010 @ 5:30am

    The author of this article is an obnoxious blowhard. The University of Miami had every right to demand that their logo be removed from the DVD case because it would be like a "seal of approval" by the university over the release of the DVD.

    Fact is, the University probably doesn't want to be associated with the DVD and the fact is that they probably didn't obtain the rights to use the logo or ask for approval to use the logo. You just cannot use someone's else's copyrighted logo without permission and this what they did.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2010 @ 5:49am

    "the move is" should be "the movie is"?

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    NullOp, Oct 7th, 2010 @ 6:17am

    Trademark

    Outstanding! Another case of a university shooting itself in the foot! I am totally amazed when this sort of thing happens. Highly educated people taking the stupid-train!

     

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  6.  
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    Overcast (profile), Oct 7th, 2010 @ 6:20am

    hahah, this has to be the most stupid copyright issue I've read about yet.

    Just cut your own throat why don't you?

    So then - just yank the whole show and consider it a loss, lol

     

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  7.  
    icon
    Benny6Toes (profile), Oct 7th, 2010 @ 6:25am

    Re: every right?

    that's a joke, right? should they also blur the logo from every scene in the movie? did/does BP have every right to demand that articles written, or tv reports or documentaries made, about the the spill in the Gulf not use their logo? not in the slightest. whether or not they want to be associated with the DVD is irrelevant ass the DVD is about the school. it's a documentary, and it's kind of hard to make a documentary about an entity, any entity, without using that entity's logo.

     

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  8.  
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    TechDan (profile), Oct 7th, 2010 @ 6:29am

    Honestly

    I was already to come in and bash Miami for this, but I have to say this is not really a big deal.

    And, for the record, this is not shooting itself in the foot. They did that a long time ago, which is why they haven't been relevant in college football in nearly ten years.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Another, Oct 7th, 2010 @ 6:40am

    Re:

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Another AC, Oct 7th, 2010 @ 6:48am

    Re: kimchi

    Personal attacks on any of the contributors are of the lowest sort of communication. Speaking of "the fact(s)", do you personally know or have knowledge of the DVD, the director of the DVD, the University, or its licensing affiliate? I sincerely doubt this, other wise you would have placed that information in your post. As the documentary is specifically about the University and it Football program, it is pretty plain that basic use of the logo could have been deemed fair use. I do no say it is fair use. Only that it could have been. As the documentary is about a very positive moment in the history of this school, I find it ridiculous that the University would pull this stunt. I also agree with a post #8 in that Miami has not been relevant to Collegiate football in a very long time.

     

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  11.  
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    Sean T Henry (profile), Oct 7th, 2010 @ 7:18am

    Re: Bah

    "ESPN is listed as having two other licenses for baseball caps and "other head-wear""

    So the easy solution is to strap the DVD to a hat and say the DVD is a free extra, that way it falls in the "other head-wear" category.

     

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  12.  
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    Kamen (profile), Oct 7th, 2010 @ 7:19am

    Re: Trademark

    "Highly educated people taking the stupid-train!"

    Just wanted to say that you may be giving these people to much credit by calling them "highly educated". This is the University of Miami were talking about.

     

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  13.  
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    GabrielTane (profile), Oct 7th, 2010 @ 7:25am

    Re: Re: Bah

    INNOVATION FTW! Hey, if all these universities and sports teams are going to take advantage (abuse?) the system, why shouldn't the people who are being penalized by this abuse?

    Sean, don't forget to copyright the "DVD Hat" so you can make your money on them ;)

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2010 @ 7:45am

    So a "moron in a hurry" wouldn't possibly think the university had endorsed this movie based on the seal? Really?

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    rec9140, Oct 7th, 2010 @ 8:19am

    who cares about a slime school like that

    Personally I think the university of miami, the florida state university and the university of florida should ALL be KICKED out of the NCAA for good, all sports.

    They are nothing but recruiting and rules violations factories from cheating, low graduation rates, and more.

    There is a damn good reason the color scheme in the movie "The Program" matched one of these schools! IT WAS ABOUT THEIR CHEATING WAYS!

    If they want they can play each other each week for 12 weeks.

    This is just more reason that this whole mess of "IP", trademark, copyright, patents just needs to be abolished its doing no good for society in 2010!

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2010 @ 9:20am

    Re:

    Their "copyrighted" logo? Are you being intentionally stupid or is it just your nature?

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2010 @ 10:12am

    Re:

    Actually, a "moron in a hurry" might even think that since the logo was on the football helmet, that the helmet manufacturer is endorsing the documentary too. That's why their called "morons".

    It would seem simple enough rather than remove the "U" from the helmet, to just add text to the front and back cover and the on DVD stating, "This DVD is not endorsed by, nor affiliated with the University of Miami".

    Since were dealing with the real world and he doesn't have the money for a court battle, he'll have to do what they say, or pay-pay-pay.

     

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  18.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 7th, 2010 @ 10:36am

    Re:

    The author of this article is an obnoxious blowhard.

    Always start your comment out with a personal insult. That makes you much more credible.

    The University of Miami had every right to demand that their logo be removed from the DVD case because it would be like a "seal of approval" by the university over the release of the DVD.

    If the DVD is about the university, using the logo is clearly trademark fair use, and it seems unlikely that anyone would interpret it to be endorsed by the university.

    Fact is, the University probably doesn't want to be associated with the DVD and the fact is that they probably didn't obtain the rights to use the logo or ask for approval to use the logo. You just cannot use someone's else's copyrighted logo without permission and this what they did.

    Fact is, you seem confused about the difference between copyright and trademark, what fair use is, and how trademark law works.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Herbal_Minded, Oct 7th, 2010 @ 11:40am

    When the NCAA starts paying athletes than this might be OK, but in the mean time get off your high horse. []_[]

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    senac, Oct 7th, 2010 @ 11:40am

    Re: who cares about a slime school like that

    Actually, UM has one of the better graduation rates in Division I, especially in football.

     

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  21.  
    icon
    David L (profile), Oct 7th, 2010 @ 12:05pm

    Public Universities and Trademarks

    Maybe it's the difference between copyright law and trademark law, but I guess I don't get it. How can state or federally funded institutions register and license trademarks for profit, when documents and other information (with exceptions of course,) are automatically in the public domain.

    My confusion comes from the "public domain" aspect of government documents like NASA images. Granted, there are limits even there:

    http://www.nasa.gov/audience/formedia/features/MP_Photo_Guidelines.html

    ...as noted by the earlier story today about the astronaut suing Dido over the album cover using a NASA image he was in. (I think his argument the he is recognizable and his likeness is therefore protected and he should be paid, is a big stretch, btw.)

    How does trademark law allow publicly funded institutions to create, register and license for profit, trademarks that were created using state/federal monies?

    I get the need to be able to prevent fraud and such, but wouldn't fraud laws cover that? How are trademarks registered by state and federal funded entities nto a special case?

     

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  22.  
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    David L (profile), Oct 7th, 2010 @ 12:10pm

    Ah..I didn't know this

    State entities can enforce copyright (not that it has much bearing on trademark issues,) Ididn't know that.

    http://stason.org/TULARC/business/copyright/3-6-Can-the-government-copyright-its-works.html

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Canes, Oct 7th, 2010 @ 2:46pm

    Re: who cares about a slime school like that

    this is just an ignorant comment, Miami has had some of the best graduation rates/academic stats for athletes in major conferences recently. You can criticize Randy Shannon's on-the-field product, but don't take shots at the program's reputation.

    The only arrest for a football player under Randy Shannon's coaching came from a player who is not even there anymore because he transferred (Robert Marve look it up). They paid for their sanctions in the past, and are moving on, you should too.

    Society in 2010? Isn't The Program like 20 years old now? Get past the 80's and 90's pal. Part of the reason the school is going this far to remove the logo is to further illustrate their position of maintaining a focus on academics above all else.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    C, Oct 7th, 2010 @ 2:53pm

    Re: Public Universities and Trademarks

    Miami is a private university.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Dave, Oct 7th, 2010 @ 8:20pm

    Re: Honestly

    Which is why you spent your valuable time commenting on an article about UMiami. Because we're not relevant. Gotcha. It's not at all because you hate us. I totally believe that.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Dave, Oct 7th, 2010 @ 8:21pm

    Re: Re: Trademark

    Research the school. Educate yourself. My university is one of America's leading research universities. And you're an idiot.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Dave, Oct 7th, 2010 @ 8:23pm

    Re: who cares about a slime school like that

    Did you really just say that Miami has low graduation rates? That's funny. Go research that, if you know how. You'll find that Miami perenially leads the NATION in graduation rate. Just another false bias against my alma mater, dispelled.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Keith Olbermann, Oct 7th, 2010 @ 11:07pm

    >> Miami is a private university.

    What's your point? Did you read comment #1? It's trademarks are still governed by CLC. When University of Miami moved licensing outside of itself, it added a typical "4 to 6 weeks" to get approval.

    Considering that "The U" premiered with 2.3 million viewers, the most ever for a documentary on a sports cable network it's quite possible that going through the normal channels, it would be stuck in a state of perpetual revision.

    You sir, don't understand television or licensing rights at all.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Ghostdogg, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 2:29am

    Re: Honestly

    TechDan you're obviously brain dead if you believe The U isn't relevant in college football. They're only ranked 13th in the NATION!!!! Where's your whatever Tech ranked? Oh I'm sorry there are no Tech schools left in the rankings. I guess they and you are what's irrelevant to the game.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Sabastian, Nov 27th, 2010 @ 8:55am

    Re: Re: kimchi

    I wouldn't say Miami had not been relevant. Still draft the most to NFL. And for the last 10 years at every single pro game, a Hurricane has scored a touchdown. Furthermore, with the exception of this season, they are usually ranked in top 25 and are known to knock top 10 teams off the rankings. Wouldn't say irrelevant just cause their last National Championship game was 8 years ago.

     

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