Artist Hugleikur Dagsson has learned he cannot sell T-shirts with the word “HÚH!” on them, as someone took out a trademark on the onomatopoeia in 2016.
In a post on Facebook, Hugleikur explains that he did the drawing shown below, simply titled “Hú!”, in the summer of 2016. Shortly thereafter, he began selling T-shirts bearing this image on his personal site.
However, he received notice from a man claiming to have trademarked “HÚH!” and as such, was the only person legally allowed to print and sell T-shirts bearing this word.
Hugleikur points out a number of questionable details about this.
“First of all, we didn’t know that it was possible to own this sound effect,” he writes. “Second, I thought we had stolen the Viking clap from Scotland, just like a regular Viking. Third, the T-shirt doesn’t say HÚH! but actually HÚ! Which to my mind is more of an Icelandic spelling than HÚH!”
However, the patent office responded to this case by coming to the decision that HÚH and HÚ are the same word.
“I don’t understand the problem,” Hugleikur continues. “My HÚ! doesn’t need to bother his HÚH! We can all HÚ! together. Isn’t that what HÚ(H) is all about?”
An observant commenter on Hugleikur’s post found the actual trademark, applied for by Gunnar Þór Andrésson in July 2016 and registered to him in September of that year.
Nonetheless, Hugleikur is undeterred. When we asked him if he was going to launch a legal challenge against the trademark, Hugleikur told us:
“Well, the ball is his court. He told us that we would either have to stop printing these shirts or pay him a part of the profit. So we decided to tell Facebook about this and see what happens,” describing the controversy that has arisen over this as “exciting”.
He intends to continue selling the T-shirts, half of the proceeds of which will go to the Icelandic Cancer Society. You can buy your own here, or contact Hugleikur directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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