The University of Kansas has ordered a Twitter page devoted to its female students’ “boob selfies” to discontinue producing a line of merchandise that uses the school’s logo. @KUboobs announced the news to its more than 60,000 followers on Monday, inciting a wave of support for the beleaguered Twitter account.
KU Boobs has been ordered to cease and desist by The University of Kansas by June 12, 2013.
— KU Boobs (@KUboobs) June 11, 2013
Several women responded by tweeting photos of their cleavage along with the hashtag #SaveKUboobs.
According to the Daily News, the inspiration behind the account arrived last year during a heated basketball game between the University of Kansas Jayhawks and the Missouri Tigers. The Jayhawks were reportedly down by 19 points when University of Kansas student Tiffany Kent decided to take matters into her own hands, tweeting a photo of her cleavage in a Jayhawks T-shirt along with the hashtag #kuboobs.
The tweet seemed to be a morale boost; not only did the tag #kuboobs start trending, but the Jayhawks also turned around the game, winning by oe point and sparking what followers dubbed the “boobment.” It even inspired a wave of unlikely imitators, including the Brigham Young University account @BYUBoobs, whose posters remain anonymous. Kent told KCTV that the response stunned her.
"One of my friends tweeted me and said, 'you should see the #kuboobs that you started.' And I was like, 'what are you talking about?' All of a sudden they're everywhere," Kent said.
“I did have one friend imply it might not be the classiest thing to do, but in my mind it is fun and it is a good time to be a KU fan,” Kent added. “If you don’t like #kuboobs, you don’t have to look at them.”
The success of the hashtag has also led the group, which is run by local DJ Ken Soap, a friend of Kent’s, to start its own line of merchandise, which includes KU wristbands. That’s where the group ran into trouble.
However, Jim Marchiony, associate director of Public Affairs with University of Kansas Athletics, said that the school never issued a cease and desist order, but merely asked the group to stop making merchandise. In a tweet, Marchiony wrote, “You may have seen a tweet from @KUboobs saying that ‘KU has ordered KUBoobs to cease and desist.’ That tweet is not accurate.”
“We’re not trying to shut @KUBoobs down,” Marchiony continued. “It’s one thing to have a Twitter account. It’s another thing to sell items with ‘KU’ on it, which is what they’re doing. That’s our federal trademark, which we always have to protect.”
The Kansas Athletics blog Rock Chalk Blog published the letter that the University of Kansas had served the group. The letter, titled “Re: Unauthorized Use of The University of Kansas Trademarks,” demands that the group “immediately discontinue all use of the University’s Marks” and turn over an inventory list.
The group has since shuttered its online store, which reportedly benefitted the organization Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. On Wednesday, the account tweeted that followers could instead donate on the organization’s page.
According to a Fox affiliate in Lawrence, Kan., the group has previously organized walks for breast cancer. Soap said that he hoped the group could help lend its publicity to other charitable causes as well. “We’re looking at other stuff this year. There’s a golf tournament in Wichita with the American cancer society,” Soap said in a January interview with Fox4 News.