Sellers Are Violating Trademarks Owned by the University of Georgia
The case was filed on July 8, 2022, in the Northern District of Georgia with the University of Georgia Athletic Association, Inc. as the plaintiff and is suing over 400 named defendants which include big box clothing retailers, clothing distributors, and online apparel vendors.
A preliminary injunction was filed in this case by the University of Georgia against the defendants, meaning that their accounts on various online marketplaces, including Amazon, are in the process or have been frozen. When this happens, they will not have access to their accounts or any funds associated with those accounts until further notice, or until they retain a firm to hopefully dissolve the injunction as it applies to them.
The Plaintiff’s brand is University of Georgia Trademark UGA, representing the brand party of University of Georgia Athletic Association, Inc. The University of Georgia (UGA) is a public university located in Athens, Georgia, and is one of the oldest public universities in the United States, founded in 1785.
The University of Georgia Athletic Association is the full name of UGA’s athletics department, which oversees the university’s athletic activities, including recruiting, competitions, and ticket and merchandise sales. The merchandise sold by UGA Athletics include T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, and jerseys in men’s, women’s, and kids’ sizes. UGA apparel can be purchased online through their own athletics website as well as in-store.
UGA apparel and merchandise can also be found online through various online marketplaces, including Amazon. There are University of Georgia products on Amazon that are officially licensed, including clothes.
Many of the vendors selling UGA merchandise on Amazon, however, are third-party resellers selling unofficially licensed University of Georgia products. There are ten (10) trademarks being disputed in the first court filings, which include the signature University of Georgia letter G logo and variations of the logo, secondary bulldog logos, and the phrases “Between the Hedges,” “Bulldogs,” “Dawgs,” and “How ‘Bout Them Dawgs.” The dates that these trademarks were filed and approved are unknown.
The first count is infringement of a registered trademark, referring to the defendants selling counterfeit products featuring trademarked University of Georgia branding, which can create the potential for confusion or deception for potential consumers. The court filings claim the defendants had knowledge of the trademarks registered by UGA but continued to sell their unlicensed products anyway, causing damages to UGA’s athletics department’s merchandise sales.
The second count is federal unfair competition, meaning that the defendants knowingly violated UGA’s trademarks and sold products which deceived consumers into believing they were officially licensed, again causing damages to UGA.
The third count is common trademark infringement and unfair competition, referring to the combined aforementioned actions of the defendants causing harm to the plaintiff.
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