Sunday, April 10, 2016

(Legal) Moonshiner and University Battle Over Rights to ‘Kentucky’; New York Times, 4/9/16

Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New York Times; (Legal) Moonshiner and University Battle Over Rights to ‘Kentucky’ :
"Mr. Fultz also tried to trademark his business name: Kentucky Mist Moonshine. And that, sports lovers, is how a moonshine maker wound up suing the University of Kentucky — the basketball behemoth exalted by its “Big Blue Nation” of fans — in federal court over a fundamental question: Who owns the rights to the name of the state?
The university says it does; it wants to block Mr. Fultz from trademarking “Kentucky Mist Moonshine” for T-shirts, hats and other apparel (though not his moonshine) sold in his distillery gift shop. It registered the word “Kentucky” with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for clothing in 1997, 19 years ago...
University athletic departments around the nation have grown increasingly aggressive about defending what they see as their intellectual property; in 2006, the University of Alabama sued an artist who painted football scenes, asking a federal judge to bar him from using the school’s “famous crimson and white color scheme.”
And while a number of public universities, in places like Georgia, Michigan and Ohio, also own rights to their state names, several experts in patent and trademark law predict Mr. Fultz — who is already selling T-shirts in the gift shop — will get his trademark in the end."

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