Familiar football game phrase now trademarked
BLACKSBURG — BookHolders near the Virginia Tech campus has announced a charity sale of T-shirts bearing the banned football game chant, “Stick It In.”
Five years after Tech officials banned the Marching Virginians from leading the chant, citing its overtones, the bookstore has trademarked the slogan and plans to offer an expanding line of “Stick It In” goods.
Joseph Verde, vice president for research and development at Maryland-based BookHolders, said the trademark was a strategic move to ensure
BookHolders could continue selling goods with the phrase. It’s also about keeping alive a certain spirit that Tech students summoned when they did the chant, he said. Two company officials are Tech alums, he said.
“We love that spirit,” said Verde. “VT students are very spirited for their school.”
During the chant’s heyday, as the Hokies football team neared the goal line, thousands of fans yelled “Stick It In” to the thump of a bass drum. Created by the band in about 1995, according to its director, “Stick It In” was recited for years until banned by Tech Athletic Director Jim Weaver early in the 2007-08 school year.
Officials said they had received years of negative feedback regarding the chant, with its double entendre. They said cutting it off was in keeping with a campaign, “Hokies Respect,” meant to encourage good sportsmanship by fans at Lane Stadium and other Tech athletic events.
But “Stick It In” merchandise continued to be available. Now some students said they are concerned to have recently learned that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Washington granted BookHolders’ request to trademark the chant. It felt like a business was taking the rights to something that belonged to Tech students, according to a group gathered on Main Street for a meeting Thursday.
When a party undertakes a federal trademark registration, it claims ownership of the mark and the exclusive right to use it on and in connection with all goods and services identified in the registration, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. There is no need to have originated the trademark.
BookHolders’ registration covers “athletic apparel, namely, shirts, pants, jackets, footwear, hats and caps, athletic uniforms,” according to USPTO records available online.
This presented an issue for other retailers that have carried “Stick It In” goods, such as the Blacksburg retail store Campus Emporium. Asked if he had contacted Campus Emporium, Verde said he sent a letter that he said is customarily used to notify others of a successful trademark registration.
“Yes, a letter was sent out,” he said.
Campus Emporium buyer Meggin Hicklin declined to comment on the issue or say whether the company carries such goods today.
In a statement, the company said: “We at Campus Emporium are surprised by recent events surrounding the ‘Stick It In’ chant. The saying has been a part of Blacksburg culture and our store for many years. We never sought to limit use of the phrase as we felt it belonged to all
Virginia Tech fans, and were content to share the market with other local stores. We will not comment on the actions of other businesses.”
Verde said he intends to exhibit flexibility. He said he is open to giving permission to make and sell “Stick It In” merchandise to other retailers, organizations or individuals as long as proceeds go to the fund drive. And his trademarking the phrase in no way prohibits anyone from saying it or displaying it, he said.
Verde said he is modeling the fund drive after a previous BookHolders drive in which students donated books that were sold to raise money to support the family of slain VT police Officer Deriek Crouse. In addition to $10 shirts, which come in white, maroon, orange and gray, BookHolders plans to sell “Stick It In” hats and beverage holders, Verde said.
Verde said the company will donate proceeds from sales of the merchandise after store costs are deducted, to a charity to be chosen by students. The company last week invited students to nominate charities using Facebook and Twitter.
“BookHolders is looking for the students and Blacksburg community to help decide which local charity can most benefit from the ‘Stick it In’ merchandise and apparel proceeds,” a news release said.
Tech spokesman Larry Hincker said the ban on the football band’s leading the “Stick It In” chant continues. The university has no opinion on students wearing a garment with the slogan on campus, Hincker said.
Some students are eyeing the shirts.
“I want one, but it’s not tremendously popular,” said freshman Poornika Kakkanaiah.
Student Anna Moh said she’d like one, too, but lacks the money right now.
Regarding the controversy, students at some other schools yell far racier phrases to spur football victories, she said, citing such a chant at Louisiana State University.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1661
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