Harvard’s “Celebrity Name” Problem

It’s time for The Game T-shirts, the semi-official garments issued by Harvard and Yale to commemorate their annual football game, which takes place this upcoming weekend.

There was apparently a snag. Natasha Thondavadi of the Yale Daily News reports that:

After submitting the shirt design to the Dean’s office and the Yale licensing office, the FCC was asked to consult with Harvard Licensing, said Nathan Kohrman ’15, chair of the Freshman College Council. “After a week of us navigating the licensing bureaucracy to little avail,” Kohrman said, “Harvard ultimately told us that they in fact took issue with our use of celebrity names in conjunction with their name.”

The shirt originally featured Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates “liking” a Facebook post about dropping out of Harvard. The new version replaces Gates and Zuckerberg with a sentence reading “people who like this also like Social Networks, Personal Computers and Roads Not Taken.”

Now Harvard doesn’t appear to have any special rights to the names Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg (hell, the people aren’t even technically alumni) but it’s a gentleman’s agreement here, so all is well that ends well (though the edited version seems a little lame to me).

Here’s the original design for the front of the T-shirt:


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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer