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Scene & Heard
Use of inverted Longhorn logo ignites controversy

George Schroeder Published: October 3, 2004

"If we were to actually use Texas' logo," Whiteman said. "But we have a trademark pending on our own logo. It's kind of unique."

It's the use of Texas' actual logo that bothers school officials. The inverted silhouette apparently won't die. Davis said he first saw the upside-down logo on a cap about 10 years ago.

"The guy had bought a (Texas) hat, cut out the logo and sewed it back upside down," Davis said.

But he and several others agreed the phenomenon has proliferated in the last few years.

"It's just caught on," Davis said. "It's amazing to me."

And disturbing to Westemeier, who said although Texas' other rivals invert the logo, OU fans are the most frequent offenders.

"The main incidences where we've seen it is with the Oklahoma game," Westemeier said.

Since 1998, when Texas and OU registered with CLC, the schools have worked together to prevent the sale of unlicensed merchandise. The inverted logo is just one mild example.; other objectionable material has included profanity.

"Some of it is not printable," said OU associate athletic director Rick Hart. "Some of it is pretty bad. But we've tried to come up with alternatives (to the inverted Longhorns). We know there's a niche out there where people want more than two helmets colliding."

Thus, "Bevo Bash" or the depictions of the inverted hand signal. But the inverted Longhorn silhouette continues to turn up (or maybe, down) on those T-shirts and caps and other items.

Not so long ago, Davis said, he was in a local Norman sports bar when a guy came in with a box of caps adorned with the inverted horns. At $20 each, Davis said, the man quickly sold two dozen.

Because of situations like that, representatives from the CLC will make surprise visits this week to Oklahoma and Texas, looking for unlicensed merchandise. Those selling unlicensed gear could face felony charges. Most of the time, the penalty is limited to relinquishing the merchandise.

Davis, who said he'd like to be able to sell gear with the inverted logo, supports the schools' efforts to prevent others from doing so. Illicit sales take money from his pocket, he said.

But the Sooner Schooner does carry the Longhorn silhouette. Davis said car decals displayed right-side up while in the store are fast sellers.

"We would hope people would be willing to take an oath to display them the proper way horns down," Davis said. "But we can't guarantee that."

And Texas officials realize they can't control it. Really, an inverted symbol on car windows and bumpers doesn't much bother them.

And there's this. A portion of each decal sale eight percent of the wholesale price goes back to Texas in royalties. At the Sooner Schooner, the Longhorn decal goes for $4.29. If the wholesale price was $1, eight cents would go to fund Texas' athletic scholarships.

Doesn't sound like much, but it adds up. Westemeier said Texas reaps up to $2.5 million annually on royalties on CLC-licensed products. The school ranked third nationally in the most recent tally of royalties reported (OU ranked sixth).

There's no way to tell how much money comes from the decals, though the Texas bookstore annually sells about 10,000.

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