University of Houston blowing off NFL's cease-and-desist about Oilers-like uniform: 'We're doing it'

HOUSTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 02: Donovan Smith #1 of the Houston Cougars looks to pass during the first half against the UTSA Roadrunners at TDECU Stadium on September 02, 2023 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

The University of Houston isn't scared of the NFL. Even though the NFL has threatened legal action if the school keeps the school's "Love Ya Blue" uniform in its rotation, UH is going through with it anyway.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the NFL believes the uniforms, which first debuted during Houston's home opener on Sept. 2, 2023, are essentially a copy of the iconic Houston Oilers uniforms from the late 1970s. The NFL sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Cougars in October, saying “the Houston Cougars’ attempt to free ride on the popularity of the NFL and the club violates the intellectual property rights of the NFL and (Tennessee) Titans.”

The new "Luv ya Blue" uniforms Houston now has planned for all of their athletic teams to use are very reminiscent of the old Oilers uniforms. They use a shade that's very close to Columbia blue, the color most closely associated with those Oilers uniforms. There are pops of red outlining the white script and numbers, similar fonts, and stripes on the sleeves.

Athletic director Chris Pezman told the Chronicle that a new design was developed in response to the NFL's letter, which included changes to several elements including the sleeve stripes. But the colors used in the new Houston uniforms, which is their biggest similarity to the old Oilers unis, did not change.

The combination of light blue, red, and white is a major Oilers identifier, but the NFL doesn't own that color combo. Not only has it been associated with the Houston Police Department for decades, the color is informally called H-Town Blue and its use in the city long predated the Oilers' arrival in 1959. Plus, at least 10 schools use a similar color scheme, Pezman told the Chronicle.

With the changes taken into account, Houston told the NFL that it will be adding H-Town Blue uniforms going forward. Whether that will be enough for the notoriously litigious NFL is anyone's guess. They didn't get rich by letting people use their intellectual property for free, after all.