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Saw ’em off, I don’t care

As someone whose collegiate sports loyalties lie outside the UT/A&M axis, I found the lawsuit against an Aggie merchandiser for violating UT’s trademark on the Bevo logo to be more amusement than anything else. And while I generally side with the little guy in matters like these, it’s hard for me to say that the UT position was terribly unreasonable:

Defense attorney Allan Van Fleet argued that Saw ‘Em Off fell under traditional First Amendment protection of satire and parody.

Van Fleet estimated more than 50 hours were spent haggling a settlement that would allow the university to protect its cherished trademark and the Kalaouzes to keep selling Saw ‘Em Off merchandise without paying royalties on past, present or future receipts.

“(The $25,000) was just a one-time, what-does-it-take-to-make-you-go-away,” said Van Fleet, a Houston attorney who got his undergraduate degree from Rice, not A&M. “It just came down to them agreeing to take a payment that was minuscule compared to the cost of going forward.”

Louis Pirkey, an attorney for UT, noted the settlement also requires the approved symbol to be used in the clear context of the school rivalry and restricts color combinations to prevent confusion with UT’s orange-on-white or white-on-orange logo.

Fadi Kalaouze estimates legal expenses north of $200,000, about a third of which were defrayed by selling nearly 5,000 “Save Saw ‘Em Off” shirts emblazoned with the old, now-retired parody logo.

The Kalaouzes could have saved their money by agreeing to make a similar alteration when UT first objected in 2005, Pirkey said.

“We told the man a long, long time ago that we understand you want to symbolize the Aggie tradition of sawing Varsity’s horns off. What we have an objection to is using our exact logo to do it,” said Pirkey, who got his undergraduate degree at UT.

As I said, sounds reasonable enough to me. For some reason, this whole thing is reminding me of peeing Calvins, though without the famously reclusive copyright owner. Make of that what you will.

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One Comment

  1. Trafficnerd says:

    I wonder if the hundreds of high schools and middle schools across the state /country that use the same Longhorn symbol (and many times the same burnt orange & white color scheme) for their logo pay licensing fees to the University of Texas.