It’s impossible to visit Tuscaloosa, Alabama without being overwhelmed by crimson. The city is awash in the colors and markings of the University of Alabama, from its signature colors to the Script A trademark to all manner of celebrations of the city’s most famous export.
The University has been attempting to maintain a hold on the use of what it considers its trademarks. Some are obvious; ‘Crimson Tide,’ and ‘Roll Tide’ clearly reference the school’s teams, and are fairly considered the school’s intellectual property.
But according to a report by the Intellectual Property Brief, the university is going to some interesting lengths to guard what it considers its property.
According to the report,
The brand is big business for Alabama. According to the University, it has generated more than $34 million in gross royalty revenues during Coach Nick Saban’s three national Championships. In 2012, Alabama reported earning $10 million in revenue from royalties, advertisements, licensing, and sponsorships.
The university claims it owns “Bama,” “Rammer Jammer,” and, believe it or not, the University of Alabama actually owns the trademark “Alabama.” In addition, the university is attempting to sue over the famous houndstooth print that has become a fashion statement in Tuscaloosa and a way of showing Alabama pride all over the country.
Fans will remember the lawsuit involving artist Daniel Moore over his paintings of great moments in Alabama football history. That suit made it all the way to the US Supreme Court, where it was finally dismissed.
While the university has a legitimate interest in protecting its intellectual property from others who would seek to make a buck off the school’s trademarks, there is a limit to what a public university should be able to claim as its own. The visible color spectrum, cloth patterns and the name of a sovereign state should be in the public domain, free for anyone to use to their own ends.
After all, the state does own the school, and not the other way around.