The group that sold T-shirts with a picture resembling Hairy Dawg smoking a joint under the Arch will face a formal hearing with the University.
Georgia NORML, a student organization that advocates the reform of marijuana laws, has been accused of breaching copyright violation laws.
The Hairy Dawg image violated trademark regulations, according to the University and the Collegiate Licensing Company.
NORML was informed of these accusations in a letter from the Collegiate Licensing Company. The company told NORML it could not use the image of Hairy Dawg to promote and sell items.
Wojciech Kaczkowski, president of NORML, signed an agreement confirming NORML stopped selling the T-shirts, would not sell any more and had no intention of violating trademark law.
“It pretty much stated that we are not using any images of [the University], and I signed the letter because I did not want to engage in any legal battles with the CLC,” Kaczkowski said.
Despite signing the agreement with the Collegiate Licensing Company, Kaczkowski said he believes NORML did not violate trademark law because a member of the group drew the image and the image was used as political satire.
He argued NORML was targeted because of the group’s stance on marijuana.
“There are so many businesses in Athens that use the image of Hairy Dawg, and we are being singled out,” Kaczkowski said.
NORML has faced two informal hearings, one on Monday and one on March 6.
Kaczkowski said the University decided to put NORML on probation. The University also requested a plan from officers detailing how they would manage NORML for the next year if they decided to forgo a formal hearing.
“Accepting the sanctions would mean that we admit that we had violated the code of conduct, and we don’t believe we have done that,” Kaczkowski said.
You can see the image University of Georgia NORML got in trouble for and my commentary on the silliness of the University’s claim. America has a very strong tradition of protecting political satire. They’d better tread lightly, lest we push this for a serious lawsuit.