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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Copycats crop up in other states

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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In watching video of a potential recruit, Southern Methodist University football coach June Jones said he and an assistant coach did an immediate double take.

There, on the side of a helmet, was the kapa "H" logo he had helped bring to the University of Hawai'i as head coach in 2000.

"It is a great logo and (designer) Kurt Osaki did a good job designing it for (UH)," Jones said. "I kinda knew it would be popular, but ..."

It is turning up in places far beyond what Jones or UH could have imagined.

In addition to the Houston-area Hightower High that UH said it is contacting about trademark infringement, there have been sightings in at least three other states to date. For example, Hoxie (Ark.) High has an "H" posted on its website. And an Advertiser reader traveling in Utah snapped a picture of an "H" sweatshirt with "Hillcrest" on it at a Target store in Midvale, Utah.

"Imitation is the greatest form of flattery, but not when it comes to trademark infringement," said John McNamara, UH associate athletic director.

For the fiscal year 2008-09, UH said "eight cases of infringement pertaining to the 'H' logo" were pursued. "Data for 2009-10 is still being compiled," a spokeswoman said.

"Due to the success and exposure our teams have garnered, the UH Athletics' logo has become a nationally recognized brand," McNamara said. "Kurt Osaki did a wonderful job when he developed the 'H' mark and it's not surprising that other groups have decided to adopt it."

McNamara added: "I don't think there's any malice or deceit intended in these situations. These groups are just unfamiliar with licensing procedures and trademark laws. As we become aware of these situations, our licensing office will work with these groups to educate them and ensure that proper procedures are followed going forward."