Group revises 'Paint the Hall Chief' post after complaint from UI

Group revises 'Paint the Hall Chief' post after complaint from UI

CHAMPAIGN — A contested logo used to advertise tonight's "Paint the Hall Chief" event at the Illini basketball game has been changed following allegations of trademark infringement.

The group that originally promoted the event on Facebook — Students for Chief Illiniwek — posted a revised notice after being contacted by the UI.

The original notice used a circular logo based on the official Chief Illiniwek logo, with the State Farm Center's seating chart replacing the feathers in the Chief's headdress. The Honor the Chief Society, which also promoted the event online, said the design had been submitted by someone in the community.

After receiving complaints, attorneys for the UI asked Facebook to take down the post because it infringed on the Chief trademark, which the university still owns. Facebook declined, according to the UI, saying the group appeared to be using the logo to comment on the university's "goods and services."

A UI attorney also sent a letter to Students for Chief Illiniwek informing the group that it was infringing on the UI's trademark and demanding that it remove the image from its materials.

Students for Chief Illiniwek posted a redesigned announcement this week, with a photo of State Farm Center instead.

"We continue to reach out to groups that are violating our trademark protection," UI spokeswoman Robin Kaler said.

The event asks fans to wear Chief apparel to the game in honor of the former UI symbol. Both pro-Chief groups said the event was suggested by community members in conversations on social media, and they agreed to promote it.

The UI retired the Chief in 2007 under pressure from the NCAA after more than a decade of protest from groups who considered it a racist mascot, and it stopped mass-producing Chief merchandise soon afterward. But it has retained ownership of the Chief trademark to maintain control of its use and has challenged pro-Chief groups' use of it in the past. It continues to license some Chief items for online sales, which Chief opponents have criticized.

Stores also sell Chief-related merchandise without using the logo and sometimes display official Chief items that are available online.

In November, the UI's licensing office asked the Te Shurt shop near campus to stop printing an "Oskee-Wow-Wow" shirt, with the words replacing the feathers in a Native American headdress, because it infringed on the UI's rights to that phrase, according to owner Michelle Fassett.

"It was brought to our attention, and we stopped producing it," she said.

Fassett is allowed to sell the remaining merchandise, but sales have been slow because of the football and basketball teams' fortunes, she said. An online ad posted by the store showed stacks of the shirts and sweatshirts on clearance.

"It does disappoint us. We've been here since the '60s," she said.

Chief opponents have asked both the UI and outside law enforcement agencies, including the Department of Justice, to stop Thursday's "Paint the Hall" event, saying it's not sanctioned by the university and promotes discrimination against Native Americans. It's expected to include an appearance by a student dressed up like the Chief. Protesters plan to demonstrate outside.

State Farm Center policy does not allow protests inside the building. Outdoor protesters are directed to designated areas so they don't block the doors or hinder guests — 20 feet away from entry ramps leading to the upper concourse entrances and 20 feet from the lower entrances on the east and west sides.

Typically, protesters gather just north of the main entrance on the west side of State Farm Center, Kaler said.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
GLG wrote on February 22, 2018 at 8:02 am

Any word from the Governor? NO and you won't get any, Same for the Department of Justice!

We have a poster "Bart 15" that has asked several times "why are other schools allowed to use American Indians in their sports programs?" The answer is MONEY! Those schools have made deals to use the imagery, spending big bucks to do it! Lets see how many of the 16 anti Chief socal justice warriors show up at the SFC tonight!  Now time for professor Kaufman and his buddy "Captin Ahab" to get back to what ever it is they do when not protesting!, That is if they can find their offices!  Did the U of I use their own legal staff to send these letters or did they farm it out to their big donor law firms on LaSalle St. in Chicago?

BART15 wrote on February 22, 2018 at 12:02 pm

  You are correct. It's always been about the money. I'm sure that the University could work out an agreement with the Peoria Tribe to share in the profits and they would more than likely approve an agreement for the Chiefs return.




Joe American wrote on February 22, 2018 at 1:02 pm

What pisses me off is that this design is NOT a copyright infringement and the University knows it.


They also know that their attorneys can claim anything they want and that the little guy won't be able to ante up the legal fees to respond appropriately.  All on yours and my tax dollar.


Shame on the University.

rsp wrote on February 22, 2018 at 3:02 pm

I'm curious, if protests are not allowed inside the building, why is the fake chief allowed inside? Is that not a protest? They claim it's allowed under free speech but protest is allowed under our constitution. Why are they picking a side? To keep the peace? That is unconstitutional. Can't allow one side to speak and not the other.

myattitude wrote on February 22, 2018 at 4:02 pm

Historically the SFC has never allowed banners, etc. in the building. This policy makes sense because a person walking aound in the Chief regalia but saying nothing is no different than a person wearing a shirt with an ad for the Chief. It would be a problem if people were allowed to make noise and otherwise interfere with the other patrons above and beyond cheering for a team. It would also be dangerous if a fight broke out especially in the bowl on those steep stairs.