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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, May 16, 2010

Texas school in flap over 'H' logo

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

The Texas high school football power Hightower Hurricanes have been using a helmet that is almost identical to one used on occasion by the University of Hawai'i, including Colt Brennan at the 2008 Sugar Bowl, below.


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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser


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It was love at first sight: the University of Hawai'i's distinctive green, silver and black kapa "H" logo and Hightower High School, a Texas football power, near Houston.

"Our school colors are green, silver, and black, and we are the Hightower Hurricanes, so a logo similar to the Hawai'i 'H' seemed like a good idea," head football coach Barry Abercrombie said. And for two seasons, it has "looked great on your uniforms," Abercrombie added.

Problem is, "use of the logo was not authorized," according to a UH spokeswoman.

UH said it has registered the "H" and requires use of the trademarks be approved by its collegiate licensing office. Jeanne Mariani-Belding, Strategic Communications & Community Engagement Specialist at UH, said, "our licensing agent will contact Hightower and notify them of the infringement. We will likely work out an agreement in which Hightower recognizes the university's legal ownership of the logo and pays us a nominal licensing fee."

Mariani-Belding said, "they will also be required to agree to use our licensees if they produce any future products with our logo on it, and any future use has to be in accordance with our licensing policies."

Abercrombie said he's "not sure, exactly, who came up with the idea for us to use the logo." Abercrombie said, "we would have gone to it a year or two sooner, but we thought that we might be violating some kind of copyright infringement." But, "the company that does our embroidery and athletic wear assured us that were 'OK' so we went to it."

The issue came to light when a UH fan on the Mainland e-mailed photos of the Hurricanes' uniforms to Hawai'i noting the strong resemblance . E-mails to Hightower's principal and assistant principal seeking comment were not returned.

The "H" has been UH's brand going on 11 football seasons since then-football coach June Jones prompted an overhaul for the 2000-'01 school year. Sales of athletic logo merchandise, much of it adorned with the "H", totaled about $1 million in UH's Sugar Bowl season, officials have said.

The Warriors' success helped earn an eight-year contract with Under Armour Inc. in 2008 as its exclusive provider of football uniforms, shoes, coaches shirts and other items. From that deal, UH is guaranteed $135,000 this year in rights fees plus product allowances, marketing support and other extras collectively valued at upwards of $465,000, according to the contract.