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Tying Strange to Tide may come with problems

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

A red “Make America Great Again” cap is featured in a new mail piece for Republican U.S. Sen. Luther Strange. But there is a big problem with Big Luther’s ad because the stylized “A” in America is the registered mark of the University of Alabama and may not be used without the University’s expressed approval.

The push card paid for by the Senate Leadership Fund, a political action committee with deep ties to Republican U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is a clever optic, but according to the University, anyone wishing to use that particular “A” must gain permission and pay a licensing fee.

The University owns the rights to the logos, symbols, verbiage and marks that reference The University of Alabama. In addition, the University controls the use of those marks, logos, symbols, nicknames, letter(s), word(s) or combination of these that can be associated with The University of Alabama. Anyone wishing to use a University trademark, or one which can be associated with the University, must obtain a license. There are four types of licenses, all managed through IMGCL:

• Internal Campus Supplier – For companies which will produce products for on-campus departments and groups at the University of Alabama. With this license, a company is not permitted to sell products to retail. Royalties are exempt on most sales into this channel.

• Local License – For companies desiring to sell licensed products bearing University trademarks, and whose businesses are based within the state of Alabama. These items can be sold to retail stores across the country and online, and royalties will be due on all items sold. Only institutions located in the state of Alabama are applicable to this license.

• Standard License – For companies desiring to sell licensed products bearing University trademarks, as well as become licensed for other IMGCL institutions that fall outside the state of Alabama.

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• NCAA/Bowl/Conference Licenses – These are special licenses that are available to companies that wish to obtain rights to use the trademarks of the NCAA, bowl games, or athletic conferences for use on licensed merchandise, either alone or in conjunction with the University’s trademarks. Licensing rights to these properties may be more expensive to obtain, depending on the event and the extent of the rights and product categories desired by the company.

Nowhere in the licensing agreement is there reference to selling a political candidate or promoting a political agenda.

Calls late Friday to the University were unanswered likely due to a campus dedication event. However, those with experience in the licensing procedure doubt the mark is being used in accordance with the University’s standards.

McConnell has made Strange’s election a top priority, while Strange has tried to separate himself from the Washington establishment personified by the majority leaders. Strange and his allies, like SLF, are spending millions on advertising, which in many cases is proven false or misleading.

Strange played basketball at Louisiana’s Tulane University, but it appears his surrogate believes the Crimson Tide plays better in Alabama.

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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