UI plans to keep Chief logo rights

UI plans to keep Chief logo rights

URBANA – The University of Illinois announced today it plans to keep its ownership rights to the Chief Illiniwek logo.

The university also set a timetable for when manufacturers need to stop producing Chief merchandise, in keeping with the UI Board of Trustees' decision to eliminate the use of American Indian imagery.

Administrators are still discussing the university's options on what to do with the trademark, but at this point the UI has no plans to transfer the trademark to any organizations or companies, said UI spokeswoman Robin Kaler.

"The board (of trustees) issued the resolution which stated we were to end the use of Native American imagery and what we are finding is the best course in meeting that directive is to maintain the trademark rights of the logo," she said.

Atlanta, Ga.-based Collegiate License Co., which handles licensing for the UI, has worked with several other universities that have phased out logos and images, according to Kaler.

"Their recommendation was that abandoning the logo and getting it outside the university was probably not going to be the best course of action. In some instances, third parties picked up abandoned logos and were selling things that were not in keeping with the guidelines and preferences of the university," Kaler said.

The university and Collegiate Licensing Co. notified the more than 400 UI licensees today about how it plans to phase out production of Chief Illiniwek goods.

Retailers cannot order any additional merchandise or apparel with the Chief logo or the words "Chief" or "Chief Illiniwek" after Monday, April 16, 2007, according to the letter. Orders to be shipped past June 15 will require special approval from the UI. The UI will not approve any wholesale merchandise orders for beyond Dec. 31, 2007, regardless of when it was ordered.

"The drop-dead, no-exception date is Dec. 31," Kaler said.

Kaler said the university will pursue any violations of the trademark regulations "to the fullest extent of the law. ... We will vigorously protect our right against infringement."

There won't be any last date for when a consumer can purchase Chief merchandise. How long the items stay on shelves will depend on demand.

Marty Kaufmann, assistant athletic director and university licensing coordinator, said he anticipates Chief merchandise will be available for sale through the summer and fall of 2007. A limited amount of merchandise may also be on store shelves through the next basketball season, he said.

"For the consumer or sports fan, there shouldn't be any panic," Kaufmann said.

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