Here's how Boise State protects its trademark on the blue turf

By Chadd Cripe
© 2011 Idaho Statesman

I have a question-and-answer story with Rachael Bickerton, Boise State’s director of trademark licensing and enforcement, in Bronco Blitz on Saturday.

One of the subjects we discussed was how Boise State handles its trademark of the blue turf.

“It’s a very key piece of our identity,” Bickerton said. “… If you don’t protect your trademarks and enforce your trademarks, you could lose them.”

Some of this will appear in Saturday’s paper, but not all:

Q: Can you explain the trademark on the blue turf?

A: “We have a federal trademark registration for the color blue as it applies to artificial turf in a stadium. … We would argue that if you’re selling a T-shirt that says ‘blue turf,’ you’re clearly trying to trade off Boise State’s reputation.”

Q: What is the policy for other schools using blue turf?

A: “When we first went to federally trademark it, it was around the time another school, the University of New Haven, installed their blue field. We didn’t register the trademark with the intention of stopping other people. It was to protect something that Boise State and the state of Idaho had invested in. We feel, and I think most people agree, that the blue turf has become synonymous with our program like Georgia’s ‘between the hedges,’ Notre Dame’s Touchdown Jesus and Nike’s swoosh. We sought to formalize that trademark with a federal trademark registration in 2008. We worked with the University of New Haven and entered into a license, so effectively they could have their blue field and we were able to protect that trademark.”

Q: Do you charge other schools for a blue turf license?

A: “We give a license for free. We have agreements that they won’t liken themselves to Boise State so there’s no confusion. (The University of New Haven) calls theirs a blue and yellow turf to make it clear and distinct. … The first high school was Barrow in Alaska and then there’s been a whole number since. A lot of them now contact us ahead of time. We just say, ‘Don’t imply that you’re related to Boise State, but good luck with your football program and we hope that the kids play well on the blue.’ ”

Q: Do you tell them not to call it blue turf?

A: “It just goes back to us saying they can’t merchandise themselves as if they’re using Boise State’s trademarks. With most of them that have contacted us we have talked about compromises. They need to be very clear their merchandise is about their high school and it can’t be related or have people associate it with Boise State. It comes down to the design and how it’s used.”


It was an interesting conversation with Bickerton about how licensing works and the growth Boise State has experienced. The school generated $1.13 million in licensing revenue in 2010-11, a 50 percent increase over the previous year. The school netted $900,000 on that revenue and split it between academics and athletics.

Here are a few other tidbits from Bickerton that didn’t make the newspaper version:

Q: What do you do on game days?

A: “During tailgates, I walk around to ensure that no one is selling unlicensed products in the tailgate area. Last year we had some bootleggers who came up from L.A. with boxes and boxes of T-shirts. We worked with the police to get that stopped. Then there’s also people who just don’t know the rules. I will work with them to get them licensed so that they can sell elsewhere. We don’t actually permit sales on campus unless it’s through the Bronco Shop.”

Q: What’s your favorite item?

A: “The Boise State gnome. I absolutely love that gnome. I don’t know if it’s because I’m English or because it’s one of the first things I licensed. He has a friend this year, we have two sorts of gnomes now. There’s a Western-style gnome that has just been released.”

Q: How often do you turn down license requests?

A: “I turn quite a lot down. We’re turning down a lot of new license requests if they are for products we already have with other licensees. … Sometimes things are just distasteful and I have to explain that we can’t license that because it’s not in keeping with how Boise State wants to be presented.”


For those questioning the story Bickerton told about bootleggers, she provided more detail:

"It was Boise City Police and (Collegiate Licensing Co.) who apprehended the bootleggers. I had seen the shirts on campus in the tailgate area and thought that weren't licensed because I didn't recognize the design. The design had 4 different institution's trademarks on them - Pac10; the WAC; Oregon State and Boise State. The two trademark licensing directors from Oregon State were also with me at that game and they didn't recognize the design either. In addition, the shirts listed the players names, which we are not permitted to do on commercial merchandize under NCAA rules, which is another indication of bootleg product.

"So, I texted our CLC rep, who was with BPD to be on the look out for them. CLC and BPD found the people selling the shirts (off campus) and sought a voluntary surrender of the shirts (whereby BPD asks the sellers to surrender the shirts and cease selling), to which they complied."

She even provided a copy of the report produced by CLC.

Bronco Shop in Portland

Hey, I could start a doomed business in Portland with high overhead and very low sales and then get a stimulus bailout for my failed venture to try and dig it even further into the ground until I go bankrupt and walk away with millions of taxpayers money...oh, wait, someone already did that I think.

Trademark Cops and lost licensing revenue

Rachael Bickerton, Boise State’s director of trademark licensing and enforcement, sez, enpart: "During tailgates, I walk around to ensure that no one is selling unlicensed products in the tailgate area. Last year we had some bootleggers who came up from L.A. with boxes and boxes of T-shirts. We worked with the police to get that stopped."

How in the world would the Boise Police have the capability/authority to enforce Fedceral Licensing Laws? I just don't believe it happened. Who made the decision the t-shirts were violative Federal trademark and licensing laws - Rachael, herself. Then what did she do; call for help from a Boise City Police man?

"Help me, help me, oh Dear God help me. Buster Bronco has been cloned and it is not right. BSU is losing 14 cents on every t-shirt that gets sold by these Pirates. They have sold 12 t-shirts so far. So in the name of the Federal Trademark and Licensing law I demand these Pirates be rounded up from this Bronco Stadium parking lot tailgate section and taken immediately to the Ada County Jail. We will get with our attornies next week and detrmine how much we will sue them for in Civil Court. Maybe we can take away their houses andother worldly goods. They can just rot in jail until then - worthless sc@m sucking Pirates. How dare they try to beat BSU our of a nickel or a dime. I will stop them by God or my name is not Rachael."


it's the principle

as you are well aware. ignoring them establishes precedent. you know this. you can do better maytag.

81 My point was

I don't believe her story.

Boise City Police are not going to arrest people for possible violations of Federal Laws.

I just do not believe her story.

I think she made it up to sound cool.


perhaps not

but i do believe they would let them know that if they do not cease & desist, things could get uncomfortable. the bpd is not going to ignore a request from a boise state official that someone is violating any law.

81 The remedy is not in criminal court

It is a civil case, through and through. That is what torts are for. What Boise City ordinance got violated? What State of Idaho criminal law got broken?

Reasonable Cause is required for a cop to stop a person and Probable Cause is required to arrest a person.

I think Rachael's nose is growing longer.

I do not believe Rachael, the BSU employee. I think she was making up the story.

Rachael, if you are listening/reading - please provide the date/game that the Pirates were selling unauthorized Bronco Gear in the Bronco Stadium Parking Lot. What were they seling, where were they located, how many of them were there, what were they wearing, how much were they selliong whatever they were selling for?

Did you provide a written Statement/Complaint to the Boise Police Department and would it be part of ther official case file for the incident.

If you didn't provide a written Statement/Complaint to the Boise Police Department were you interviewed via a voice recording. Would there be a record to that affect in the Boise Police record of the incident.

What were the name(s) of the responding Boise Police Office personnel?

Were hey riding bicycles or were they in a police car.

What was the resolution of the matter? Was anybody arrested, charged, prosecuted.

If not, then does that mean they were not violating any law(s) and you are just full of hot air?

Once I get that information from you, it is a small matter for me to go to the Boise Police Department Records Office and get a copy of the police report and read it for myself.

If what you say is true, there should be no proboem with you providing a date/game that this ocurred at; as it is no problem to get the BPD record of the case:

If what you say is true !!!!!!!

I think you are not telling the truth.

If you would be willing to lie to a reporter, what else would you be willing to lie about.

Are yo9u representative of a typical BSU employee?

Just curious.

Either provide more information (date/game) or run the risk of having your credibility besmirched, forever.





I've just failed miserably trying to be incognito.

VNDL it is surely plausable

that some dudes came up from LA and the police moved them on.. Since when does she say that the police arrested and prosecuted the offenders, just some punks trying to sell some shirts for drug money who ran at the first sign of a cop.... sounds like par for the course to me. Why do you always hound on these silly things.

Ω Maybe ...

... it's enticement. But, not as far as the questionable vendors are concerned. No doubt a few hucksters trying to make the (non-biblical) proverbial quick buck.

Maybe he's trying to provoke you to actually show up!

VNDL....I am Shocked!....Are You not the same Priest

baptizing disciples at the first 'Sensitivity Awareness Summit' (SAS) at the Ram????

Do you not think this Bronco lady is sensitive? Need to code, so only we know....Rachael rhymes with go by Ms alittle go like:

[Ms Maple may not have alluding correctly with the story of some folks trying to sell Bronco stuff and then had the fuzz follow them....I noticed Ms Maple's nose had grown alittle]....

Do you see the difference? Yours is harsh....Ugly's is coded and has some sensitivity....

Ω Okay, ugly, here we go.

It was no "Sensitivity Awareness Summit". It was more like the first quarter of the Super Bowl in which the "teams" were parrying. After that it was jovial (rhymes with remedial) discussion of many things football ... specifically Bronco football. Once we learned that the "insiders" did, indeed, have plenty of insight, the discussion ramped. Those who didn't show really missed a great opportunity. Good news is that you, and others, might get other chances.

However, given the success of "Board Meeting #1", I wouldn't be surprised if subsequent summits are not open to all comers. Kinda like "emersion" and exclusion. Things, like potato chips, add up, ya know?

"Rachael rhymes with Maple"? Right. Like Easton rhymes with Louisville Slugger.

"Ugly's is coded and has some sensitivity ..." Coded like an iceberg under a moonless sky.

Holy Kirkland!

ps - BSU 51, Tulsa 12

hey razor

yep, it's me.

The other day at lunch you guys talked about how suspiciously close P2 and ugly posts are to one another. I log on this afternoon with my new TBK username, see these two posts and I can't help but think you guys are dead right about them being the same person. I'll consider that to be the case until ugly and P2 both show up at the RAM.

Ω Why change?

TheBroncoKid was just fine. Granted, TBK is much shorter to enter at login.

I think there's lots of spoofing going on around here. I've said it before ... if P2 and ugly are the same, I'm going to be very disappointed. If it turns out to be true, it's a DQ. Right about having both show up ... only way to be sure.

Not that I'm all that doubtful, but please send me an email to confirm your new ID. Thanks.

ps - goal posts

change is good

email sent

Ω Got it and responded.

Board Member.

Not that I'm vested to convey much of anything.

ps - 1st and 10

Besides, let's see

wiz try to hijack "TBK"........

Ω Forget that ...

... that's over.

What did you shoot ... who won?

ps - Raid the beer cart much?

pps - Who carried the water on 18? On the first try?

ppps - Go for it on 4th and 8.

It was a good day

13 under. wiz made a 35 foot putt on the last hole.....

But I'll let him tell you about it.

Don't Need No TBK Clone......

TheBrocnoKid is alive and well..although retired.

5 Pars, 13 Birdies, no Eagles (or putts), no Bogeys. In fact, never in danger of a Bogey, no par puts over a couple feet at most.

Now you'd think 59 would be in it. We were thinking that. Noooooo 53 won. In fact, 40 groups/teams...13 umder 59 was a 3 way tie for 12,13,14 places. Wow

So the last hole is a buck fifty par 3. No one hits a decent shot, all on green, but best shot is 32 feet. Tfunky goes 1st...and drains it promply true and bronco blue. I'm happy for him..we make bird and he deserved a nice one..flirted with a couple all day. I'm also sure I would make this just know sometimes. So I mark the ball, same spot, and drain it as well. What a hoot! Great time!-

Ω That is ridiculous

13 under and you're not on the board? At Falcon?

There is no way -19 if the tees are back. Where were they?

There isn't one par 3 close to 150 at Falcon (212, 223, 200, 196) ... unless they put the markers way down the fairway. Sure it wasn't Pierce Park?


Pin up front.

Championship tees (red). 1 up from tips.

It's a challenging tourney. Lot of local club pros play in it and a lot of single dig well as the scratchers. You do realize 19 under is at least 1 eagle..if all the rest are birds? LOL.


Ω Red is 6569 ...

... so that's very respectable. Still, ya gotta play 10 from the back. One of the toughest shots around. Not the distance ... depth of the green.

Eagle would most likely be on #11.

Probably ran into quite a few loaded teams.

ps - No wildcat in the red zone.


someone threw one in on a pitch from a fairway.

PS no runs 1st and 6 on the 6.

Ω True

Always could get a lucky one.

Most of the holes there I like. A few I don't: #s 3, 15, 17, 18. #17 was fine until they built the new tee just north of Winnemucca. #18 has always been a joke, in my estimation. If they extend the bailout in front by about 20 feet, it would be much better. Might not make 4, but 6 wouldn't always be in play. There is nothing to the right and practically nothing to the left.

We birdied 18

Jason and I cleared the water on the left. We chipped up from about 90 yards out.

Ω You don't "clear the water" ...

... on the left at 90 yards. That's bailout.

Jess given ya chit. Betcha had a grate tiem.

yep, let's forget it all

like I said, bygones are bygones. I'm done with it all and none of us should care if P2 is Ugly. I just hope that's not the case as it would be really interesting to meet them both and find out what they're really like.

If anyone wants to join me for the game, I'll be at the former Holiday Inn on Vista at the 98.9 The Eagle BSU Tailgate Party (I think it's called the Boise Inn now) if so, you guys have my number.

he could

just don't confuse TBK posts with those of TKB's

Ω There is a TKB?

I know there's a new one with three letters, but didn't think it was TKB. There is a "TMD" which we're still trying to figger.


just kidding

Ω Be careful.

Your post count is climbing.


call me brett that it's hard to stay away from the game!

Farve...Tell Me...

was the Jets secretary HOT??

I'll tell ya what's HOT

...check my junk pic I just sent ya!

No Prob Funky....


They never said they made

They never said they made any arrests, just that they took care of the situation

"Licensing Laws"

The police don't enforce "Fedceral Licensing Laws", probably because there are no such things. They can enforce trespassing laws, though.

It's Probably not Federal, but City

Boise City Code 5-12-03

"It shall be unlawful for any vendor, solicitor, or temporary merchant, as the same are herein defined, to engage in such business or to employ another in such business within the corporate limits of the City without first obtaining a license from the City Clerk's Office in compliance with the provisions of this Chapter."

I believe this practice might fall under the "Temporary Merchant" section, and I doubt if the "bootleggers" bothered to obtain the required license.

You're post is idiotioc...

and typical vndl sludge.

Ω "idiotioc"?

Well done.

Don't have a quiet spasm, it's their property and they can.

BSU has a legal right to control the usage of their property (parking lot or other) regarding sales of unlicensed merchandise bearing their logos and likenesses.

They are cleared through the NCAA actually, if you would care to check the tags. Other NCAA institutions likewise frown on this.

Not only are the NCAA and BSU getting ripped of but the company that sells legitimate merchandise is robbed as well.

That legitimate mechandise creates funds that go throughout the entire university, not just the athletic department.

So now you an I realize why it's a big deal.

You don't want negative publicity from something that does not set with the fans either. BSU decides which ideas are beneficial and prevents overkill.

If you made a shirt for yourself only that didn't use logos and trademarks and was appropriate they would likely be happy. Sell a few, no.


I've just failed miserably trying to be incognito.




...provided more detail. I added it to the post.

New trademark ideas

Boise State should also trademark terms like "lifetime student" or "low graduation rate"

Tried to...

UI already did these though.


should trademark "idiotioc"

U of I

could trademark "irrelevant in its own state". Or how about a new slogan... University of Idaho, desperately riding the coattails of Boise State. We don't have a real football team, but we have a law school, if you're interested.


how the newest and biggest building on the U of I campus is in downtown Boise. And its half empty. Go figure.

interesting indeed

is it half empty...or half full?

It's an ILL USION!


I've just failed miserably trying to be incognito.