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Trademarks can be attacked on many grounds, such as lack of distinctiveness or misuse. Lately, however, the trademarks of some universities have been under threat from an usual source: boobs. The Twitter account @KUboobs posts pictures of women’s chests with something related to KU in the photo. The photos are usually provocative and are taken by the young women themselves before being submitted to KUboobs for posting. The boob-centric company was also selling “I <3 KUboobs” wrist bands and donating part of the profits to breast cancer research. However, KUboobs found itself in hot water last week with the university’s trademark lawyers, who wrote that the boob pictures and wrist bands constituted “trademark infringement and unfair competition,” and that the public would erroneously believe that Kansas University endorsed or sponsored KUboobs.
After making the university’s cease and desist letter public, KUboobs has received a lot of support from the online community, even launching a #saveKUboobs campaign to generate public support. The effort was apparently successful, as the university felt enough pressure that the administration partially backed down. The school now says it is not going after the @KUboobs Twitter account and is only trying to stop the sale of the “I <3 KUboobs” wristbands, as it must protect its trademarks under federal law in order to retain them.
After the school changed its position, the @KUboobsw Twitter feed is apparently back online and here to stay. Despite KU’s best efforts, it appears the boobment will continue gathering momentum: for now at least, Twitter accounts like @KUboobs, @UKboobs, and @Mizzouboobs can still operate, spreading school spirit across the twitterverse.
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