NFL sends cease-and-desist letter to Houston Cougars over uniforms
The University of Houston football team wore some alternate uniforms earlier this season that closely resembled those of a former NFL franchise, and they may not be allowed to use them again.
Joseph Duarte of The Houston Chronicle reported on Monday that the NFL has sent the University of Houston a cease-and-desist letter to stop any further use of the Houston Oilers’ trademarked “Luv Ya Blue” uniforms. While the Cougars have made no mention of the Oilers in marketing their light blue uniforms, the NFL views them as “blatant copying” of the old Oilers uniforms.
The Houston jerseys feature a slightly different shade of blue than the Oilers’ throwbacks and have been marketed as a tribute to the city of Houston’s football history. In its cease-and-desist letter, the NFL said Houston wore the uniforms for their Sept. 2 season opener despite the NFL informing the school seven months prior that “we did not consent to the Houston Cougars’ use of the uniform at issue or any similar designs.”
“The Houston Cougars’ attempt to free ride on the popularity of the NFL and the club violates the intellectual property rights of the NFL and the (Tennessee) Titans,” an attorney for the NFL said in the Oct. 13 letter.
The Titans wore their throwback Oilers uniforms for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons. They plan to wear them again later in the season when they take on the Houston Texans.
Houston has not sold any merchandise featuring the light blue color scheme. Vice president of athletics Chris Pezman said in September that the school “hit some roadblocks” with the approval process for the jerseys.
The Cougars have removed some social media posts in the wake of the NFL’s letter, but one from Aug. 31 that features the uniforms still remains.
— Houston Football (@UHCougarFB) August 31, 2023
Houston will stop using the jerseys, at least for now. In a response letter on Oct. 20, Houston vice chancellor for legal affairs Dona Cornell said she disagreed with the characterizations made in the NFL’s letter but conveyed that the Cougars will stop wearing the uniforms. That will likely come as a disappointment to many Houston fans.