Who Owns "Bevo?"

What's in a Name?

It appear's that the University of Texas feels very strongly about one name that, at least from my point of view, has no exclusive relation to that institution.   It turns out that UT trademarked the moniker "Bevo" in the seventies.

By the seventies, I had been using the name "Bevo" for over thirty years and my father had just finished using it for almost 65 years after making it famous world wide during his lifetime of work in aviation plus his skill in aerobatics.

Today (8/27/03) an article appeared in the Austin American Statesman that reported on the University of Texas filing suit against a restaurant named "Bevo's" because UT didn't give the owners permission to use "their name."

I have always been a bit sickened when the high dollar legal guns come out to protect some entity's "rights" in these issues.  Anyone else notice that these "threat" cases are almost always initiated by an "entity" and never a "person."  In this specific case,  it's personal.  The rights arguments that UT's consul is aiming at this firm now apply to me as well, and it's time to voice an opinion.

Those who know the name "Bevo" from aviation history, may not know that the name of UT's Longhorn mascot steer is also "Bevo."  For those who know only the association of the name with the steer might Google for the name or take a look at www.BevHoward.com/Bevo.htm

The original hoofed owner of the Austin based name "Bevo" had to suffer two painful brandings to get to this name that has stuck for 86 years.  86 years ago, Texas A&M won the annual grudge game with a final score of "13-0" and to rub it in, a team of aggies raided the steer's home ground and branded "13-0" on the side of the unfortunate mascot.

When the deed was discovered, the Texas guys rebranded the poor longhorn one more time to modify "13-0" to read "BEVO"

Since football is serious business... and serious business is always ultimately about money... and money is about power, UT's legal counsel has stepped in to assure that any use of those particular four letters in sequence occurs only with UT's blessing, a "blessing" that comes with a price.

Consider, however, that before that branding took place 86 years ago, my father had the nickname "Bevo" and many decades before the legal eagles started taking action, he made the name famous in the aviation world from the forties until his death in 1971, a fame recently underscored by a picture of his airplane included in a story of the new National Air and Space Museum facility at Dulles airport carried in the Wall Street Journal.  He wasn't the first to use the name either.  To his mother's chagrin, as a kid, he got tagged that nickname from  "Bevo" beer, and from what I have heard, it was the only beer weak enough to remain legal during prohibition.  (I have even heard scratchy recordings from the prohibition period referring to "...that Bevo Beer.")  Google comes up with a number of "Bevo Beer" hits as well.

Even thinking about "rights" with respect to this common name seems absurd.  In addition to many hits of all type of historical references when searching for "Bevo" on the Internet, I note that there are many postings describing recreations of his unique aircraft around the world, the most amazing, to me, being virtual recreations designed to be used within Microsoft's venerable "Flight Simulator."

Those recreations of the symbol so closely associated with his life mean that new generations can each recreate and salute what he created during his life and left behind.  Are these "rights violations" for them to do so?  No! Hell No!  For those who have forgotten or are too blind to see the obvious, their motivation is veneration, something that Longhorn fans know well, but a concept that the UT legal staff apparently cannot grasp.

The appearance of the lawsuit article prompted me to call UT's general consul and voice my objections to their exclusive claim to the name. 

The conversation went pretty much as I had expected... UT's exclusive rights to the name "Bevo" were aggressively defended during that call, but I was given verbal assurances that they would not pursue my or my father's use of his name... a clear inference that they had the right to do so.

This case is wrong, flat wrong, and the institutions, laws and attitudes that let these petty, but expensive, pissing contests occur are wrong as well.

Beverly "Little Bevo" Howard

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