columbus-898928_1280.jpgThere is nothing quite like the community that develops around collegiate athletics. It manages to be both universal and provincial, important to so may around you but inconsequential beyond the borders of your schools' influence. And the relatively long history of many universities has allowed for traditions and rituals that come to define both a team and a locale.

Growing up in Ohio, there are few institutions more important than the Ohio State University, if any. Absent any other landmarks or attractions of note, the Ohio State football team is the beacon of civic pride for many in the state. As such, the iconography surrounding the teams and their fans becomes a distinctly identifiable signifier of the school itself to any in the state. And given how linked those images are, it's no wonder the university is active in pursuing possible infringent.  

The Ohio State University recently filed a lawsuit for trademark infringement agains CafePress for trademark infringement over a set of shirts. The university alleges that the online retailer has been selling merchandise with the words "Buckeyes" and  on them, as well as with the images of Ohio State football's head coach Urban Meyer and "O-H-I-O" spelled out with arms (think a midwestern version of the Village People's "YMCA"). The rights of all of the marks in question are held by the university, including the trademark and image rights of Meyer.

As college sports have grown into an enormous revenue generator for schools, institutions like Ohio State are taking more steps to both register their marks and take legal action to prevent unauthorized use. And among college football teams, Ohio State is one of the biggest brands, combining on-field success with an enormous fan fallowing willing to pay for shirts, hats, jerseys, and almost anything else adorned in the scarlet and grey. The school had previously taken action agains Teespring for the sale of similarly unauthorized merchandise. In its case gaianst CafePress, Ohio State is seeking $1 million in damages for every item sold, as well as compensatory damages and legal fees. 

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