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Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
A BYU cougar appears to be polishing off Utah's mascot Tuesday. Intense rivalries attract sellers of counterfeit goods.

Football rivalry isn't always about the game. Sometimes it's just about the money.

For both Brigham Young University and the University of Utah, Saturday's annual face-off means record sales for T-shirts, key chains, furry mascots and anything else emblazoned with a school logo.

The day of profit — an estimated $100,000 in sales for the U. bookstore alone — also means guarding against scammers with knock-offs and illegal logos. To protect the image and earnings of both schools, the U. is calling in reinforcements to track down unlicensed vendors trying to make a buck off the well-known logos and mascots.

"We know there's always a lot of excitement and passion around this game and that people want to capitalize on that," said Shane Hinckley, director of licensing and marketing for the U. "We just want to make sure our fans and our brand are protected in the process."

Officials from the Collegiate Licensing Company will be at Saturday's game, making sure vendors are licensed to sell the school brand. If they're not, those officials could turn the vendor over to the police or could even seize the merchandise on the site, said Tammy Purves, spokeswoman for the national company.

The Utah vs. BYU game is a high priority for the company, which monitors licensing laws for 180 college teams. The U. and BYU both made the list of the 75 colleges with the highest merchandise sales this year, ranking Nos. 45 and 47, respectively.

The bigger crowds and fervor of this week's rivalry game are likely to breed an influx of counterfeiters, Purves said.

"We'll be out at a handful of rivalries this weekend, but we've designated the Utah game as a big one for us," she said. "The counterfeit vendor is trying to play on the passion of the fans and get them to make an impulse purchase for something that's not licensed."

In particular, the company will be looking for use of any of the U. or BYU's licensed trademark words, graphics or logos. For the U., that means any use of words such as the U., U. of U., swoop, Utes, running Utes or red rocks. The school's trademarks also include graphics of a circle with a feather, the block U, school seals and the school's mascot, Swoop.

Owning the rights to those logos means big money for most colleges, who often also contract with other retailers. The U., for example, gets an 8 percent share of any merchandise sold at stores like Smith's. That money goes into student scholarships, Hinckley said.

While U. officials don't know how much scammers take from the school's pockets each year, bookstore director Earl Clegg said the intense surveillance is more about protecting the integrity of the school's products.

"It's the biggest game day we have, by far," Clegg said. "It (a scam) definitely takes a few dollars out, but it's more an issue of the image of the university."

Comment on this story Hinckley recommends several things to look for to safeguard against buying unlicensed goods:

  • All licensed merchandise should display an Official Licensed Collegiate Product hologram.

  • The tag on the garment should be intact.

  • All merchandise should bear the name of the manufacturer somewhere on the product as a hangtag, a label or screen print.

  • All merchandise should have a trademark designation next to a name or a design.
"It's an effort to get out and protect our marks and our name for our fans," Hinckley said.


E-mail: estewart@desnews.com