HBO claims it had the right to use the University of Utah's name and logo in its polygamy-themed series "Big Love."

The cable channel released a statement Wednesday saying it did not violate federal law by using the U.'s red block logo and name in the March 22 episode of "Big Love."

"We are confident that nothing in the program violates anyone's rights, and HBO will be responding in due course," said HBO spokeswoman Tonya Owens.

In the episode, a U. letterhead sporting the logo and the university's name is shown on screen for about three seconds on a research lab report. Bill Henrickson, the polygamist main character, finds a fictional letter from former Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints President Wilford Woodruff that legitimizes polygamy. The U. report authenticates the letter.

U. spokeswoman Coralie Alder on Tuesday said HBO never asked permission to use the logo, an act she says is in violation of federal trademark law.

The university's media agent, Collegiate Images, issued a cease-and-desist letter to HBO on Tuesday. It requested that HBO delete shots containing the name and logo from the episode and any of its reruns.

The cable channel's responding statement did not say whether it would remove the trademark in question. HBO attorneys will be contacting the U. about their legal options, Owens said.

University of Utah President Michael Young condemned HBO on Tuesday for using the U. logo and name without asking permission. It could lead the public to erroneously conclude that the university is associated with "Big Love" when it isn't, Young said.

e-mail: mmcfall@desnews.com