The Nebraska Cornhusker football season officially kicks off Saturday with the first game of the season and like every game, Memorial Stadium will turn into a “Sea of Red.”
It's a massive, lucrative business, the trademark and licensed printing business for collegiate athletics. It includes anything with a trade marked logo, colors and lettering of a particular university.
This week, three shirts went viral across the United States. One in particular, pitted Iowa against Nebraska. It thrust the illegal business of pirated merchandise into the national spotlight.
Thursday night, the Nebraska Athletic Department released this statement to Channel Six News, in reference to shirts printed using the Penn State football scandal as fuel for trash talk. One shirt pitted Nebraska against Iowa.
“The shirts not only infringe on our trademarks but more importantly they are crude, callous and offensive. We are working with the University of Iowa Licensing Office and Collegiate Licensing Company to try to find and stop the printer from producing the shirts."
"With most of the college's you submit the logo online to groups called like trademarks or C.L.C., they send it to the school, the school approves it and you are good to go or they say no, you can't do that," Pat Lawlor said. Lawlor, of Lawlor's Custom Sportswear explained in his shop, the merchandise made and printed there goes through a tedious approval process before it hits the shelf. "The rules of counterfeit and illegal, unlicensed merchandise is the same as the drug trade,” Lawlor said.
The C.L.C. approval sticker is the holograms on the tags of clothes and merchandise. They cost Lawlor about $.50 to put on, they are required. Print an illegal shirt, the C.L.C. and Trademark Office can seize the shirts, the money made from selling them, and the printer's equipment that made them.
Look at it this way, someone who wants a racy, edgy or funny shirt design with the Nebraska or Iowa logo -- you can get it printed. Chances are it's printed somewhere illegally and not a dime goes back to the university. However, buying a shirt with the C.L.C. sticker means someone can support the team on the outside and with their pocket book.
How much actually goes back to the university or school? Lawlor says about 15%. Even so, he said his shop is fairly lucky to carry a license. His shop actually prints for about 10 different licensed schools, leagues and professional sports teams throughout the metro.