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WVU slaps lawsuit on T-shirt firm

Alex Lang, The Dominion Post, Morgantown, W.Va. –

T-shirts with vulgar words violate WVU’s trademark, the university said in a lawsuit.

The suit states Fastees, a Morgantown company, sold apparel that uses the trademarks or “confusingly similar” imitations. Several of the T-shirts, and photos, are listed in the lawsuit, including shirts that read “West F****** Virginia,” “Let’s go! Drink Some bEERS!,” “Gold F****** Rush,” and “Blood Sweat and Eers.”

The university also charges the company with cyberpiracy for registered domain names that have several links back to Fastees. The websites are both variations of the phrase “West F****** Virginia,” which violates the West Virginia trademark, according to WVU’s attorney.

WVU seeks to stop Fastees from using its marks or colorable imitation in connection with the company’s goods and services. The university also seeks an order to have Fastees recall products found to infringe on WVU’s rights and to pay damages to the university.

The suit was filed late last week in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.

WVU contends that Fastees, and its website, violate several trademarks, trademark dilution, cyberpiracy and unfair competition. Fastees has a retail store on Beechurst Avenue.

In the suit, WVU noted its Board of Governors owns five trademarks: “West Virginia,” “WVU,” “Mountaineers,” the “Flying WV (stylized),” and the “Mountaineer (design mark).”

The university also owns the common law trademark rights to “Gold Rush.”

WVU points out the gold and blue color scheme is used in conjunction with the West Virginia mark. The color scheme is widespread in the BOG activities and licensed merchandise.

“The gold and blue color scheme has tremendous power as a source identifier of WVU BOG, particularly when used in connection with other indicia (distinguishing) identifying or suggesting West Virginia University, such as references to athletic events in which a West Virginia University team is participating, the history of West Virginia University’s athletic successes, or the geographic area in which West Virginia University is located,” the suit claims.

The case was initially assigned to Judge Irene Keeley, but she filed an order deeming herself disqualified to hear the case. The case was transferred to Judge Frederick Stamp. The exact reason for her disqualification could not be obtained in time for this report.

Kevin Ford is listed as the managing member of Miva-Man, which operates under the name Fastees. Ford declined to comment on the lawsuit until he spoke to his lawyers, he said Tuesday. WVU spokesman John Bolt said Tuesday that the university had nothing to add to the suit.

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