The First Shot
Home Up We Mean No Harm

Round 1, The Shaggie Saga: 

Let the Fight Begin!

Subject :  Trademark Infringement: 
Use by SSQQ of the term “Forbidden Word”

Date :               Friday, February 4, 2000

To SSQQ Dance Studio -

I have copied Tobin Boenig of the Collegiate Licensing Office at Texas A&M University on this communication.  I request that SSQQ contact him immediately. His phone number is (409) 845-4621.

Your use of the term “Forbidden Word” in your advertizements in the “Leisure Learning” Magazine found in grocery stores all around Houston and prominently displayed on your website “” IS AN INFRINGEMENT ON A TRADEMARK HELD BY TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY.  I personally do not have the authority to prevent you from using the trademark as I am not a University official, but it was my understanding that Mr. Boenig was issuing a Cease and Desist Order to your company after he and I talked several months ago.  The term “Forbidden Word” and the logo of Texas A&M is trademarked (by a state trademark) in the state of Texas by TAMU.

I am the Special Events Director of the Forbidden Word Professional Forum.  We are a non-profit organization associated with other Houston area A&M alumni clubs, the Houston A&M and Reveille Clubs, through a Houston area coordinating board.  Our purpose is to raise scholarships for current students of Texas A&M University.

Alumni organizations are permitted by the University to use such terms.  A year and a half ago, we began teaching “Forbidden Word dance lessons” that are taught by former Forbidden Word Wranglers (a dance troupe on campus).  Our biggest selling point to Forbidden Word alumni in Houston is the fact that they are taught by former Forbidden Word Wranglers, in general our draw is that they are “Forbidden Word classes taught by Forbidden Words with Forbidden Word dance steps.”

Let me preface the following by saying, since you have not already refrained from using the trademark, I am assuming that the University has not actually contacted you yet and that you are, to date, unaware of the trademark infringement.  And to the best of my knowledge, SSQQ does not own or otherwise direct the business decisions of Leisure Learning magazine.  When we began teaching “Forbidden Word dance lessons,” we contacted Leisure Learning magazine in hopes to advertize (sic).  I don’t have to tell you how effective that magazine is in Houston for items such as dance lessons.  For dance lessons in Houston, the magazine is probably more effective than the yellow pages.  In spite of our motives to raise scholarship money, their direct response was that they “would not publish any advertizement (sic) that was in direct competition with SSQQ”.  Because of Leisure Learning’s uncooperativeness and, indirectly, your apparent hold on what we consider would have been our best avenue for advertizement (sic), I am not willing to back down from the issue of your use of the trademarks (and detailed descriptions and references to A&M in your website).

Should you not refrain from using the trademarks, quite honestly, I (and I’m sure many other Houston area Forbidden Words) would find it a blatant act of greed on both the part of SSQQ and Leisure Learning magazine and rather disgusting that you would contribute to end the noble act of raising scholarships for worthy students.

We are already fighting to keep our dance lessons going.  We are a volunteer organization that does not possess the dance lesson market presence that SSQQ has.  Your efforts to advertize (sic) “Forbidden Word Jitterbug” directly undermine our efforts to raise scholarships.  I ask that you immediately refrain from advertizing (sic) your classes to draw upon Forbidden Word alumni.

Stephen P. Huzar
APF Events Coordinator


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