UK challenges ‘Team Kentucky’ trademark, working with Beshear on solution

UK challenges ‘Team Kentucky’ trademark, working with Beshear on solution

August 17, 2021 0 By Steve Bittenbender

The University of Kentucky took action last week opposing the state’s move to trademark a phrase Gov. Andy Beshear has used throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state applied for a trademark on “Team Kentucky” in late March of 2020, shortly after the public health emergency began. Beshear has called his regular COVID-19 briefings “Team Kentucky updates” and used it for the name of a special assistance fund for residents established during the early stages of the pandemic.

The state’s trademark application for the logo, which includes the term with an image of the state in the upper right corner, would be used on various types of clothing. It would promote such causes as tourism, economic development and “public awareness of the environment, health and public safety” across the state.

However, the university told the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in a formal notice Friday it has used “Kentucky” on athletic uniforms, T-shirts and other apparel.

Because of that, school leaders say people may buy “Team Kentucky” merchandise and believe there’s a connection to UK.

In a statement Monday to The Center Square Monday, Jay Blanton, the university’s chief communications officer, said the school had no hostile intent behind the filing. And in no way should it be implied that the school opposes measures to battle COVID-19.

“We continue to support efforts to keep our communities safe,” he said. “We encourage everyone to get vaccinated and to engage in healthy behaviors as part of Team Kentucky.”

Blanton added the school needed to file because, under federal law, it needed to “assert” ownership of its protected brands.

The goal is to ensure both the school’s and state’s images are appropriately protected under trademark law.

“UK has been working alongside the governor’s office throughout this process,” Blanton said. “The governor’s office was aware and understanding of UK’s need to meet legal deadlines to file this information permitting the parties to continue working together to get federal protection for the Team Kentucky mark.”

A message to the governor’s office seeking comment was not returned.

This article was originally posted on UK challenges ‘Team Kentucky’ trademark, working with Beshear on solution