from the sue-sioux dept
But now the shoe is on the other foot, as UND lawyers have sent cease and desist notices to a Denver UND alumnus who has created clothing featuring a parodied version of the old UND mascot logo. Here are the two logos side by side.
So, yeah, there isn't a ton of differences there, but what changes were made make a significant impact. Parody only works if there's similarity, of course, and it seems unlikely that anyone is going to miss the outstretched tongue and think they're buying official UND clothing. That isn't stopping the school from sending out the letters, though.
Karl Larson is still making and selling clothing that parodies UND's retired Fighting Sioux logo after the school's legal counsel sent a letter asking him to stop. The Fighting Sioux nickname was controversially retired in late 2012 after the NCAA threatened sanctions, but UND still owns the trademark to the logo, which was designed by American Indian artist and sculptor Bennett Brien. The cease and desist letter from UND dated Sept. 23 states Larson's logo is an "unauthorized reproduction," and is likely to cause confusion, constituting copyright infringement.The use clearly is parody. The entire point of the change in logo is to mock the school for abandoning its trademarked name and associated images. Finally, the school abandoned the trademark and images. That should end the trademark argument right there. For a trademark to be valid, it needs to be actively used in commerce. The school abandoned its nickname and logo in 2012. Spend some time on the school's athletics page and you won't find the old logo anywhere.
"While your website includes a self-serving referenced to 'parody,' we do not believe that there is any legal authority that would even remotely suggest that the minor, almost imperceptible modification to the work here qualifies as permissive use."
Larson has reportedly retained counsel out of Fargo to respond to the letter, but I wouldn't expect much other than an explanation of how trademark law works to be required.