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KU sends @KUboobs cease and desist
If you maintain an interest in (1) college sports and (2) boobs, there is a good chance you have at least heard of the @KUBoobs Twitter account.
In case you haven't, it's an account operated by KU fans, and it retweets user-submitted photos of boobs belonging to Kansas fans. That's pretty much the whole deal. Most of the boobs in question are at least partially covered, if that matters to you. The account has almost 50,000 followers, and it has grown into a small business, selling wristbands and other merchandise that includes the letters “KU.”
So the University of Kansas isn't wild about this. It is so unwild about it, actually, that the operator of @KUBoobs on Monday received a cease-and-desist letter from the university.
"KU Boobs has been ordered to cease and desist by The University of Kansas by June 12, 2013," the account posted Monday.
The account does not profess to be affiliated with the university in any official capacity, but it also doesn't make it explicitly clear that it isn't, and the school isn’t so much worried about the Twitter account as it is the sale of merchandise. The website affiliated with the Twitter account, KUboobs.com, appears to have been taken down as of Monday night.
Kansas associate athletic director Jim Marchiony took to Twitter in order to explain the University's reasoning:
KU is not trying to shut down the @ kuboobs Twitter account. A Twitter account is one thing. But they're selling merchandise with KU on it.— Jim Marchiony (@JMarchiony) June 11, 2013
So it appears the Twitter account can live on if it chooses to.
Twitter's policy about fan accounts reads like so: "In order to avoid impersonation, an account's profile information should make it clear that the creator of the account is not actually the same person or entity as the subject of the parody/commentary."
Twitter suggests accomplishing this by, among other things, including language like "this is a fan account" or "not affiliated with ..." in the bio portion of the profile.
Of course, Twitter policy and the civil court system are different animals entirely, and Kansas does have a history of aggressively protecting its trademarks. The school in 2008 won a lawsuit over a local T-shirt maker called JoeCollege.com, which operated out of a storefront in Lawrence, Kan., and sold shirts that said things like, "Our coach can eat your coach" and "Muck Fizzou."
A jury ruled that several of JoeCollege.com's shirts infringed on KU's copyrights. The store's owner, Larry Sinks, was ordered to pay nearly $800,000 in damages and legal fees and went out of business in 2010.
Reaction to the @KUBoobs news quickly swept across KU's corner of the Twitterverse, mostly from fans hoping to save the boobs.
As of Monday night, that didn't look like a promising movement.
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