The success of the Iowa football team has even the most casual fans sporting Iowa gear, and has the man in charge of licensing for the school keeping an eye out for those trying to take advantage of the desire to wear the black and gold.
Hawkeye Sports Licensing director Dale Arens says, the companies all have to get approval to legally produce the items with the U-I logo.
“We take applications in a variety of different product categories. Any application requires a marketing plan…there’s a couple of different things we look at in each case, and do they have a chance for success,” Arens says. He says the products have to be new or do something different with a current product to get approval.
Iowa completed an undefeated regular season at 12-0 and plays Saturday in the Big Ten Championship game. There’ll be special hats and t-shirts and other items on sale at the event in Indianapolis, and Arens says there are even more requirements for the vendors who produce those products.
“Those don’t involve just the University of Iowa’s intellectual properties, but they are going to involve, like this weekend the Big Ten, Michigan State,” Arens says. “So now you are looking at a licensee vendor who has to have a relationship with all three of those parties, or it’s not even worth talking about.” Arens says they will be looking to make sure unapproved items aren’t being sold.
“I will be in Indianapolis working with my colleague from Michigan State, people from the Big Ten and then local law enforcement. So, we do police the marketplace around the stadium prior to the game and in that market,” Arens says. “And throughout the season that’s something we do here at the University of Iowa also.” Arens is confident they will find any knock off products.
“I like to say I am like a good bird dog, I know where the birds are hiding. And so we know if there are going to be infringers, we know where they’ll be and we make sure they don’t hang around any longer than they are welcome — which is not,” according to Arens. He says things haven’t changed a lot when it comes to protecting the copyrights.
“While it may seem easier to do that now because of the internet, it’s also easier to find and police them,” Arens says. He says he does have a lot of help when it comes to keeping a watchful eye on the tiger hawk.
“It’s crazy, you’d think that would be a 24-seven job for me, but the University of Iowa has 250,000 plus alumni out there and every one of them thinks they are a detective when they see this,” Arens says. “They don’t want to see their beloved school stolen from and infringed upon — so they certainly let us know when they see things.”
So, does the man who makes sure everything from Hawkeye keychains to socks wear the gear when he heads out? “Yeah I do, but it’s crazy though because with what I do, everybody thinks that that’s my entire life. And while it is, sometimes I’ll go to my closet and I’ll go ‘ oh good lord I wish I had something that didn’t have a log on it.’ When I go to church I don’t want to go wearing a Hawkeye shirt,” Arens says. Most other times though, he says he’s happy to wear the black and gold.