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Disagreement between MU, fan blogger resolved

Thursday, January 24, 2008 | 9:38 p.m. CST; updated 8:05 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Courtesy of missouritigers.com

COLUMBIA — The licensing representative for MU athletics has withdrawn consideration of taking action against a man running a fan Web site devoted to the university’s sports programs, an MU spokeswoman said Thursday.

Mary Jo Banken of the MU News Bureau confirmed that a disagreement between the Collegiate Licensing Company, who handles usage of all university trademarks, and Richard Lozano, a St. Louis attorney who owns the domain name missouritigers.com, had been resolved.

Calls placed to James Aronowitz, associate general counsel handling the matter for the Collegiate Licensing Company, were not returned.

Since 2001, Lozano has owned the missouritigers.com domain name. A 1990 MU graduate, Lozano posted commentaries for several years and recently began selling T-shirts and hooded sweatshirts that bear the Web site’s name and logo.

Last month, Lozano received a letter from the licensing company on MU’s behalf primarily demanding that he stop selling the clothing items, which he had offered through cafepress.com. Federal law prohibits the sale of unlicensed merchandise using a trademarked name. Later in the letter, it was asked that he “cease using the missouritigers.com domain name.” The phrase “Missouri Tigers” was officially registered at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last November, years after Lozano launched his site.

Lozano said he had made offers to MU Athletic Director Mike Alden and Web Communications Director Lori Croy via e-mail in June 2001 to hand over rights to the domain name in exchange for money to cover registration and ownership costs for the site. The university did not respond to his messages, Lozano said.

Croy said she could not remember if she had received a message from Lozano.

Banken said that Lozano has agreed to stop selling the merchandise and that the Collegiate Licensing Company has completed its involvement in the matter. She said no further communication with Lozano would be necessary.

“As far as the university is concerned, we’re pleased with his response,” Banken said. “We are in the process of establishing a policy dealing with fan Web sites. The primary problem with this situation was that he was selling unlicensed T-shirts, and that matter has been settled.”

Banken said the university will be meeting “as soon as possible” to more clearly address its policy issues regarding fan Web sites and domain names in relation to established university trademarks. Croy said that representatives from several departments within the university will be involved in the discussion.

“We don’t intend to control fans and their Web sites,” Banken said. “It would be close to impossible to monitor them all, and that’s not our intent.”

Lozano said the support he received from friends and strangers alike during the situation was “dramatic and overwhelming.” He had printed about 10,000 “Fight the Power” T-shirts featuring the Kitty logo that he hopes to have refunded.

“It was all going to be a tongue-in-cheek endeavor,” Lozano said. “I don’t want to run afoul with the university. But I thought there really was a legitimate issue about the domain name.”

Pending confirmation from MU that he can promote the Web site itself, Lozano said he may revise and later relaunch a merchandise site. However, he said he has not received that clarification. Looking back on the controversy, Lozano said he had mixed feelings regarding the university’s course of action.

“I guess I’m satisfied that they seem to have resolved the situation in a reasonable way,” Lozano said.


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