College to Continue With Football Uniform Despite NFL’s Cease & Desist

The University of Houston said this week that its sports teams will continue wearing their alternate uniforms — which are light blue, red and white — even though the National Football League sent a cease-and-desist letter months ago.

In that letter, the NFL claimed that the uniforms were a “blatant copying” of the trademark that the former Houston Oilers hold.

During the spring meetings of the Big 12 Conference, Houston’s athletic director, Chris Pezman, spoke to the Houston Chronicle, saying:

“We literally have a story we can show the city uses it. This isn’t a reach. This is a layup. We’ve got a very defensible position.

“We’re doing it. We’ve reviewed everything and come to the conclusion that we are going to proceed.”

Pezman added that officials at the school are giving the NFL “two to three weeks” to respond to the letter. The league hadn’t done that as of Tuesday of this week, according to a Chronicle report.

The issue first arose on September 2 of last year, when the Cougars football team wore these alternate jerseys. They said they were a tribute to “H-Town Pride.”

But, once the school wore the uniforms, the NFL sent a legal notice to the University of Houston, saying they were much too similar to the Oilers’ “Luv Ya Blue” era.

The NFL’s Oilers left the city of Houston in the late 1990s, moving to Tennessee and being renamed the Titans in the process. But, the Tennessee franchise still holds the rights to that trademark.

The NFL sent the University of Houston a letter last October, writing that the school’s “attempt to free ride on the popularity of the NFL and the club violates the intellectual property rights of the NFL and (Tennessee) Titans.”

But, Pezman responded by saying that the University of Houston was working on a design that would be new and not in conflict with the NFL trademark, while still paying respect to the football history of Houston.

The uniforms that the University of Houston wore resembled those of the Houston Oilers, though they didn’t specifically reference the Oilers franchise at all. The university has also claimed that the color of blue is slightly different than the one that the Oilers used, and they refer to it as “Houston” blue.

A similar situation arose a few years ago in another Texas city, where SMU debuted “Dallas jerseys” that paid tribute to old NFL jerseys that the league’s Dallas Cowboys once wore.

In addition, there are controversies surrounding the fact that the new NFL franchise in Houston — the Houston Texans — are not allowed to wear throwback jerseys that pay homage to the Houston Oilers either.

Only the Tennessee Titans are allowed to do that, since they are technically still the same franchise even though they moved cities. That means that when the Titans wear those throwback jerseys, they are actually paying homage to a completely different city.