Who Owns HÚ(H)!? Skip to content

Who Owns HÚ(H)!?

Icelandic cartoonist, writer, and comedian Hugleikur Dagsson has been told he is not allowed to sell t-shirts he designed in honor of the Iceland’s World Cup-qualifying football team because the caption on the shirt is a patent violation, Vísir reports. Hugleikur’s ‘Man Celebrating,’ shirt shows a man in Iceland’s team uniform doing the now-famous ‘Viking Clap’ and shouting “HÚ!” However, Gunnar Þór Andrésson, a sports trainer at the Landspítali Hospital, says that this caption is too close to the exclamation “HÚH!” which he’s trademarked.

The fracas was detailed by Hugleikur on his Facebook page in a post entitled “How the Grinch Stole the Viking Clap.”

“I drew this illustration, which could most simply be called ‘HÚ!,’ during the summer of 2016. Not long after, we printed this shirt for the online shop on Dagsson.com,” he wrote. “Great fun. Everyone happy. But then one day, we received a message from a man we won’t name (we’ll just call him Grinch), who told us that he owned the word “HÚH!” and that he was the only one who could print that on a t-shirt. This came as a surprise to us.”

Vísir confirmed on the website of the Icelandic Patent Office that Gunnar Þór had indeed registered a trademark on the word ‘HÚH!’ on September 30, 2016. The trademark gives him exclusive rights to clothing, shoes, hats and headwear with the word ‘HÚH!’ on it, as well as beverages including beer and other alcoholic drinks, mineral water, soda, fruit juices etc. The trademark is valid for the next ten years.

Gunnar Þór asserted that ‘Hú!’ is close enough to his trademarked ‘HÚH!’ as to represent an infringement, an argument that Hugleikur doesn’t think holds any water.

“For one thing, we didn’t know that it was possible to own a sound effect. We thought that everyone owned this sound/word/cry,” he wrote in his Facebook post. “For another, I thought that we ourselves had stolen the Viking Clap from Scotland, just like proper Vikings. And thirdly, it doesn’t say ‘HÚH!’ on shirt, but rather ‘HÚ!’ Which in my opinion, is a more Icelandic spelling than ‘HÚH!’ because we don’t end words in ‘H.’ For this reason, we decided to try and buy the rights to ‘HÚ!’ and then share those rights with the nation. Because, c’mon: it isn’t possible to own ‘HÚ!’ any more than it’s possible to own people or lighters.”

However, the Icelandic Patent Office agreed with Gunnar Þór, ruling that ‘HÚ!’ was the same as ‘HÚH!’ and saying that Hugleikur could no longer print his shirts. “I don’t understand why he’s making a big deal out of this,” wrote Hugleikur. “My ‘HÚ!’ needn’t bother his ‘HÚH!’ We should all be able to ‘HÚ!’ together. Isn’t that what ‘HÚ(H)!’ is about?” He went on to say that his website “has loads of HÚ! shirts that we have to get rid of before the Grinch knocks on the window.”

Since the story first broke, RÚV has reported that Gunnar Þór has been in touch with Hugleikur about the matter, saying that he thinks they can come to an agreement if Hugleikur agrees to share the profits of his t-shirt sales. “I wasn’t prohibiting him from selling the shirts—I just want us to reach an agreement, if he has some ideas about a fixed amount or percentage. They haven’t answered me about what they were thinking,” says Gunnar, who says that he’s up for a conversation and “keeping an open mind” on the matter.

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