U of I, Chief Illiniwek Group Reach Trademark Settlement
By Jeff Bossert, with additional reporting from The Associated Press
A longtime backer of Chief Illiniwek says he is happy with an agreement on the continued use of the controversial former symbol of the University of Illinois.
A settlement between with the University and Honor the Chief Society means the group can host related events, but for the most part, it cannot use the name “Chief Illiniwek” and must make it clear that any such activities are not associated with the U of I.
The university threatened legal action against the group in 2010, when selling merchandise tied to the ‘Next Dance,’ an appearance by a chief portrayer.
Society co-founder Roger Huddleston said the Chief can still be referred to in a historical context.
“We can still publicly talk about our concerns and our zeal for returning the Chief to his rightful role, that type of thing," he said. "But as far as merchandising with Chief on it, we cannot. We really haven’t changed anything that we’ve done, as a matter of fact, it’s expanded our efforts a little bit more, and given us a little more confidence to do some of the things we want to do.”
Huddleston said this agreement frees up his group to promote future Chief appearances.
The university stopped using the symbol in 2007 under pressure from the NCAA and other groups. But the school owns trademarks for the name and image. Huddleston said the Honor the Chief Society has been assured by the U of I that free speech will be honored.
University spokeswoman Robin Kaler said the settlement clarifies what the group can do.