University of Kentucky Trademarks

The University of Kentucky was founded in 1865 in Lexington, Kentucky. Often referred to as “UK”, “UKY” or “U of K”, it is a public land-grant research university. A land-grant university was one that was designated by a state to receive the benefits of the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890. This was typically in the form of educational institutions receiving federally controlled land to sell and raise funds. 

The University was founded by John Bryan Bowman, an American lawyer and educator. It was originally a publicly chartered department of Kentucky University called the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Kentucky (A&M). Two years later it split from Kentucky University (now known as Transylvania University) and A&M was built on a 52-acre park and fairground space donated by Lexington – this became the core of UK’s present campus. 

After years of expansion, extension, and welcoming of more diverse students, its name was changed to “State University, Lexington, Kentucky” after reaching university status in 1908, and then to “The University of Kentucky” in 1916. It is one of the state’s two land-grant universities (the other being Kentucky State University). 

The University of Kentucky now offers more than 200 academic programs and comprises 16 degree-granting colleges, a graduate school, fifteen libraries on campus, and the Lewis Honors College, which aims to better the Commonwealth of Kentucky through its students. In the last several years, the University of Kentucky has received nearly 100 national rankings for its work in academics, research, healthcare, and economic development. They earned 28 Top 10 rankings and 50 Top 25 rankings recently, as well as being the institution with the highest enrollment in the state.

Famous University of Kentucky Trademarks

Universities tend to have a lot of intellectual property, between campus names, mottos, sports teams, logos, branding, etc. The University of Kentucky is no exception and has registered 45 trademarks with USPTO. Let’s take a look at some of their most famous trademarks, registered by the University of Kentucky. 

“UK”

The first thing the University of Kentucky registered for a trademark was interestingly the school’s initials, and also nickname – UK. The illustration was registered in 1989 and consists of the letters “UK” which are separated in the middle by the outline of a tower. The trademark applies to:

  • Educational services, namely, university undergraduate, graduate, extension, continuing and community education, independent study programs, public lectures, workshops, fine arts events, remedial assistance programs, seminars, conferences, and children and teenage summer academic camps

Read more: Trademarking an acronym

Kentucky Wildcats

The second thing the University of Kentucky trademarked was another nickname and the name of their sports teams. The school became known as the “Wildcats” after a football victory over Illinois in 1909. The chief of the military department at the time said that the team “fought like wildcats”. The name stuck and was adopted by the university a short time later, as well as a costumed mascot in 1976. The “Kentucky Wildcats” wordmark was registered for a trademark in 1990 and applies to:

  • Entertainment services, namely, intercollegiate sports contests and exhibitions; production of live and taped television programs relating to sports; providing public recreational, sports, and athletics facilities; providing athletics instruction and coaching of students and the public
  • License plate frames in the nature of holders
  • Wall clocks, desk clocks, watches, and ornamental lapel pins
  • Golf umbrellas, backpacks/book bags, all-purpose sports bags, and laundry bags
  • Pillows, plastic key chains, plastic license plates and stools, picture frames, plastic banners, and stadium seats
  • Beverage glassware, mugs, trash cans, insulated containers for food or beverages, insulated sleeves for beverage cans, paper plates, jugs, sports bottles, and bottle openers
  • Golf towels, afghans, quilts, cloth pennants, and beach towels
  • Art prints, athletic exhibition schedules, writing tablets, writing paper, stickers for windows, decals, note cards, bumper stickers, binders, self-adhesive note pads, paper bibs, and posters
  • T-shirts, sports shirts, shorts, sweatshirts, mufflers, hats, jackets, athletic jerseys, sweatpants, and cloth bibs
  • Basketballs, basketball backboards, decorative wind socks, and board games

University of Kentucky logo

The logo for the University of Kentucky has had four logo changes over time with two major design differences. 

The original logo was introduced in 1973 and featured a blue wildcat looking over the state of Kentucky outlined in blue. This then changed in 1988 to feature the initials “UK” in blue with a black outline. The “K” sits in front and slightly to the right of the “U”. An orange wildcat is behind the logo reaching forward with its front paw. 

In 2005 they got rid of the wildcat, keeping the same “UK” initials in the same stylized way but with a lighter blue and a white and blue outline. This was developed further slightly in 2016 to become a darker blue which is their current logo today. 

The latest logo was registered for a trademark in 2004 and applies to:

  • Magazines regarding college athletics and alumni news, athletic exhibition schedules, trading cards, art prints, posters, decals, bumper stickers, books regarding history, ink pens, stationery, writing tablets, writing paper, stickers for windows, note cards, binders, self-adhesive note pads, wire-bound notebooks, pencils, trading cards, programs for intercollegiate athletics contests, calendars, lithographs, appointment books, paper napkins, gift wrapping paper, binders, and rubber stamps
  • Beverage glassware, porcelain products, namely, figurines and decorative plates and sculptures, cookie cutters, glass jars sold empty, mugs, drinking steins, plastic sports bottles sold empty, ice buckets, serving trays, not of precious metal, trash cans, toothbrushes holders, soap dishes, insulating sleeve holders for beverage cans, cups, coasters, plastic drinking cups for toddlers, insulated containers for food or beverages, metal buckets, and bottle openers
  • Clothing, namely, T-shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, sweatsuits, swimsuits, suspenders, gym shorts, hats, jackets, jogging suits, shoes, sandals, shorts, socks, tanktops, turtlenecks, V-neck sweaters, infant wear, baby shoes, baby socks, scarves, sport coats, and leather jackets, neckties, sport shirts, polo shirts, athletic jerseys and shorts, cloth baby bibs, hooded sweatshirts, rugby shirts, mufflers, athletic training suites, parkas, ponchos, rainwear, earmuffs, boxer shorts, and aprons; children’s clothing, namely, shirts, shorts, pants, socks, sweatshirts, sweatpants, athletic jerseys, hats, and T-shirts
  • Basketballs, footballs, golf balls, scale model replicas of cars, trucks, airplanes, and trains, golf club head covers, golf clubs, golf bags, divot repair tools for golf, golf tees, golf gloves, toy cars, basketball backboards, game tables, board games, stuffed toy animals, Christmas tree ornaments, baby rattles, porcelain dolls, and playing cards
  • Educational services, namely, university undergraduate, graduate, extension, continuing and community education, independent study programs, public lectures in the fields of agriculture, architecture, arts and sciences, communications and information studies, dentistry, education, engineering, fine arts, business and economics, health sciences, human environmental sciences, law, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and social work, workshops in the fields of agriculture, architecture, arts and sciences, communications and information studies, dentistry, education, engineering, fine arts, business and economics, health sciences, human environmental sciences, law, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and social work, fine arts events, namely, theatre productions, music performances, dance concerts, and art exhibits, remedial assistance programs, seminars in the fields of agriculture, architecture, arts and sciences, communications and information studies, dentistry, education, engineering, fine arts, business and economics, health sciences, human environmental sciences, law, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and social work, conferences, and children and teenage summer academic camps; and entertainment services, namely, arranging and conducting collegiate athletic events and exhibitions, production of live and taped television programs relating to collegiate sports, providing public recreational sports and athletic facilities, providing athletics instruction and coaching of students and the public 

Go Big Blue

“Go Big Blue” is what the University of Kentucky students and fans chant before a Wildcats basketball game to support their team. The colors, royal blue and white have been the official colors of the university since 1892. The fanbase for their university’s sports teams is called “Big Blue Nation”. “Go Big Blue” was trademarked in 2018 and applies to:

  • Clothing; clothing, namely, T-shirts
  • Entertainment services, namely, promoting and conducting collegiate athletic events and exhibitions, and providing athletics instruction and coaching of students and the public

Estate Whiskey Single Distillery Origin

One of the University of Kentucky’s most recent trademarks is for the “Estate Whiskey Single Distillery Origin”. This is in relation to the UK’s program which looks to celebrate the deep-rooted Kentucky industries of agriculture and distilling. The school is combining its land-grant mission, expertise, student talent, and research to launch the first-ever Estate Whisky Certification program. The program has three tiers of certification and aims to encourage and discover the advantages of sourcing locally and the production of whisky-making while making a positive impact on the environment and natural resources. The wordmark for this trademark was registered in April 2021 and is still pending, but if granted will apply to:

  • Alcoholic beverages, except beer; whiskey

Wrapping up

The University of Kentucky has done well to trademark several of its intellectual property and key assets. They’ve covered logos, names, slogans, sports slogans, charitable work, university programs, and much more. The UK has also been thorough and trademarked both the wordmark and illustration of most of their assets – protecting themselves against competitors using the same or similar wording or imagery. With 45 trademarks registered with USTPO, they’re well protected against future legal battles. 

Learn more about other famous trademarks here. 

Xavier Morales, Esq.

About the Author:

Xavier Morales, Esq.

Mr. Morales founded this trademark law practice in January 2007 with the goal of providing intellectual property expertise to entrepreneurs and businesses around the country. Since then, he has filed more than 6,000 trademarks with the USPTO. You can learn more about Xavier here.

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