VCU basketball and the trademark debacle

Morgan White
Opinion Editor

Newly hired Rams basketball head coach Will Wade said at a conference on Wednesday that VCU would maintain the brand associated with VCU basketball, Havoc.

“What makes VCU basketball great is VCU basketball has a brand,” Wade said. “VCU basketball is Havoc. Just so y’all know, Havoc still lives here.”

Whether it will continue to be a part of the VCU brand or not is still up in the air. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch on April 3 the University of Texas board of regents filed two trademark applications involving the word “Havoc” with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

The trademark would involve using phrases such as “Horns Havoc,” and “House of Havoc Shirt,” mainly on clothing that would be available to be sold. While VCU does have a trademark on the use of this word, they only have it trademarked through the State Corporation Commission of Virginia therefore the use of this word nationally is up for grabs.

A trademark is what identifies a product, service or company through a sign, design or expression. There’s no doubt that what identifies the basketball brand of VCU is “Havoc.” “Havoc” was seized after former head coach Shaka Smart described the team’s playing style as such.

On I-95 south, upon entering the city, there is a VCU billboard that says “Havoc Lives Here.” Rates for billboards in the Richmond area are known to go up to as much as $3,500 for every four weeks.

Eyeing the tug-of-war between Texas and VCU for this trademark is nothing short of confusing. Should we let go of our end of the rope? Definitely not.

Wade meets up to the Havoc standards.

The second part of Havoc is the team. According to an April 9 Richmond Times-Dispatch article two of the recent signees, Jordan Murphy and Kenny Williams, have requested to be released from their National Letter of Intent. Whether the team will be able to pull through with graduating seniors and lost recruits is still to be seen.

The third part is the fanbase.

Would The Rolling Stones have thrown away the trademark of the lips and tongue had another band or brand decided to use it? They could have sold the licensing fees and gone to another logo. However the band that took that trademark would forever be seen as the people that stole their logo from The Rolling Stones.

The problem with the VCU and Texas trademark debacle is we’re not sure whether it would remain synonymous with VCU if Texas bought licensing rights to Havoc. Another problem it brings up is if the trademark was indeed synonymous with the team or if it was merely a word that defined Smart’s coaching style.

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