Mizzou sticks it to campaigns using its name

Makers of Kerry and Bush stickers have been told to cease production by MU.
Monday, October 11, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:48 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 13, 2008

Democrats and Republicans attempting to rally support for their presidential picks last week found themselves in a sticky situation.

MU’s licensing office said bumper stickers reading “Mizzou is Bush Country” and lapel stickers that read “Mizzou for Kerry” distributed on campus and at university events violated trademark laws. The licensing office ordered the end of their production and distribution.

Mary Jo Banken of the MU News Bureau said the university sent a request to cease distribution and production of the “Mizzou is Bush Country” stickers to the Boone County Republican Headquarters.

“We sent the headquarters a notice, and they were compliant,” Banken said. “There was no attempt to get permission, but it’s possible they didn’t know. Sometimes people use our trademark without understanding the legalities invoked.”

Volunteers at the GOP headquarters deny involvement.

“We didn’t know anything about the bumper stickers,” said volunteer and Republican Central Committee member Susan DiPietre. “One (university) person called and one came by, and we didn’t have anything. I’ve seen them, but we don’t have them.”

The MU Licensing and Trademarks Web site provides guidelines for trademark permission. Organizations must fill out different forms depending on how the mark or name will be used.

Banken said the university would not grant permission to a political group.

On Wednesday, the university was notified by licensing staff that “Mizzou for Kerry” stickers were also circulating.

“We’re very flattered that all these candidates want the endorsement of the university,” Banken said.

Boone County Democrat Headquarters received the same cease-and-desist request given to the Republicans. The Democrats also agreed to stop circulation, Banken said: “We believe the headquarters are where the stickers originate.”

Phyllis Fugit, chair of the Boone County Democratic Central Committee, said the headquarters staff doesn’t know who made the stickers.

“There are stickers that say ‘Mizzou for Kerry’ or something to that effect, but there are also ones that say ‘Mizzou is Bush Country,’ ” Fugit said. “A campus organization might have distributed them.”

Banken said that although distribution of the stickers has stopped, the damage has been done.

“The problem is that a lot have already been passed out and circulated,” she said.

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