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New Pitt branding prompts pushback from Shop 412

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Damar Hamlin revealed that a trademark issue led to a Pitt uniform alteration

PittsburghPanthers.com

Pitt rolled out its new branding and uniforms on Sunday, and one element of the new look was the incorporation of “412” marks on the football team’s visors. The gold marks were written in Pitt’s new Cathedral font on blue visor tabs, and they were intended to be a nod to Pittsburgh, as 412 is the local area code.

However, despite the minor nature of the addition, the marks prompted pushback from local clothing store Shop 412, according to Pitt defensive back Damar Hamlin. As a result, the Pittsburgh-themed decor was removed on April 12, which is locally known as 412 Day.

”It was a happy 412 Day until I found out that [Shop 412] made us take the ‘412’ area code off our visors,” Hamlin said in a tweet. “I guess it’s not really about the city.”

Hamlin is a native of nearby McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, which is also served by the 412 area code, and he was one of several local players spotted with 412 marks on their visors over the past week. Some of the others included defensive back Paris Ford of Pittsburgh and wide receiver Aaron Mathews of Clairton.

Shop 412 responded to Hamlin’s message by noting, “We are and have been working with Pitt on a deal for authentic 412 x Pitt.”

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office records show that the Shop 412 logo became a registered trademark on Sept. 18, 2012. The digits “412” are also listed as a word mark belonging to Shop 412, meaning Shop 412 has trademark rights to the digits as plain text.

The USPTO notes that this trademark applies to clothing, footwear and headwear in general and specifically to "clothing and footwear for sports." However, interestingly, it does not apply to protective helmets used for sports.

Pitt previously released a PDF document called the Pitt ID Manual on Sunday. This document revealed all the changes the school made to its branding, including new logos and fonts. But it appears the document was removed and replaced with a new version on Tuesday.

Like the original document, the version posted Tuesday has a section on word marks. However, while the new document identifies “Hail to Pitt,” “Panthers” and “H2P” as word marks belonging to Pitt, there is no longer any mention of “412.”

It’s unclear what kind of deal Pitt and Shop 412 might be working on, but unless the clothing store grants Pitt permission to use the area code on its equipment, it does not appear the 412 marks will return as they were used before.