by Max Brantley
Earlier this month, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted registration of the sensory mark to the Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas. The type of mark is atypical among commonly registered trademarks. Instead of it consisting of a word or design, it is a sound. Specifically, the University of Arkansas has received federal protection of Arkansas-influenced crowd cheers consisting of the “Woooooooo. Pig. Sooie!” chant in conjunction with providing collegiate athletic and sporting events.
The application for ownership of the trademark, submitted on July 26, 2013, had to overcome a USPTO examining attorney’s Office Action, which stated that “[b]ecause crowds commonly chant encouraging words at sporting events, consumers of the sporting event would not recognize the chant as a source indicator for the event.”
The University of Arkansas already owns a federally trademark registration for “Wooo Pig Sooie!”, Arkansas Razorbacks, University of Arkansas among others.
The new sound mark registration, the same as the previously registered trademarks and logos, cannot be utilized for commercial usage without permission or a license from the University of Arkansas. It does not pertain to non-commercial usage like fans calling the Hogs at games, in hotel lobbies, pep rallies and anywhere in the world for that matter. Those would not be commercial uses.
I would point you to a Jeff Long quote in the press release.
“These registrations are designed to protect the commercial integrity of a cheer that has been synonymous with the University of Arkansas since the late 1920s. To be very clear, these registrations do not apply and in no way prohibit all Razorbacks from Calling the Hogs as much as they can. Instead, they mark a proactive step to ensure the Hog Call cheer made famous by Razorback fans remains properly affiliated with the University of Arkansas and our great state.”