Licensing is a tricky business in the incredibly competitive and crowded local-shirt market. Securing a license for logos requires a lot of upfront cash. During the first year of business as two separate companies, Hayes & Taylor and The BrickShirtHouse, the owners got their share of cease-and-desist letters for printing shirts that were the same color as teams but didn’t use any logos, or violated other copyright laws. One notable example was a Hayes & Taylor design that replaced the heart in the “I love New York” logo with a choke-signing Reggie Miller. According to The Shop co-owner Brian Kelly, someone from New York’s tourism department was in town and saw it. “To us, it was flattering because they knew who we were,” Kelly says.
Most cease-and-desist letters just ask the printers to stop making the shirts instead of seeking money from the small businesses, Kelly says. He put the Reggie shirt out of production, but it hasn’t hurt the business, which is one of the few local-tee makers to expand to a brick-and-mortar location. Those days seem to be over anyway. The Shop sells nearly 90 designs, and all of the college tees, Kelly says, are produced legally with a license. (Those in Pacers or Colts colors are not licensed—that’s why those designs only hint at which teams they represent and don’t include logos.) So, no, that “Hail!” Hail!” Purdue shirt won’t become an out-of-production collector’s item, but you can wear it with a clean conscience and at least be ensured a moral victory.