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DePaul threatened trademark suit against ‘Consent the D’ sexual-assault campaign

We finally have an answer on why the grassroots T-shirt campaign at DePaul University known as “Consent the D” folded so quickly: It was indeed a threatened trademark lawsuit by the school.

The DePaulia reports that the campaign to raise awareness of sexual assault, started by a male student and quickly criticized by female activists as “triggering” assault victims, got a cease-and-desist letter from DePaul’s general counsel:

“I’ve spoken to counsel about potential legal issues, and he does not believe that the university has a case,” said Randy Vollrath, a senior and founder of Consent the D. “I spoke with the dean’s office about the cease and desist letter. They were very supportive of me and the fight against sexual violence and in favor of a culture of consent.”

He said Consent the D did not use DePaul’s logo or trademark and that their “D” design was original and “substantially different.” Vollrath announced the end of the movement in a video posted to the group’s Facebook page Nov. 4 and that T-shirt production halted as they “worked to address the issue.”

It’s not the end of the “Consent the D” concept, however, which was intended as a riff on the school basketball slogan “Fear the D” (Demons):

Also, Vollrath said he decided to use Consent the D, a project he came up with months ago, as the topic for his honors thesis.

“I had been working on the movement for a few weeks and I wanted to commit myself 100 percent to making the movement successful,” Vollrath said. “Meanwhile, a deadline was approaching to make a decision on what to write my honors thesis about. The honors thesis will be a retrospective analysis of the extent to which the movement was successful using social entrepreneurship literature.”

Read the DePaulia story.

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IMAGE: Consent the D

About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” He co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon at Seattle Pacific University.

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