Plain Talk: UND President Armacost says it's up to Coach Berry to address trademark controversy publicly

"That'll be for Coach Berry to make a determination," UND President Andrew Armacost said on this episode of Plain Talk.

White University of North Dakota "NODAK" jerseys
White "NODAK" jerseys used by the University of North Dakota's men's hockey team.
UND provided photo
We are part of The Trust Project.

MINOT, N.D. — Retro hockey jerseys featuring "NODAK" emblazoned on the front have become a hot item for the University of North Dakota's hockey team. Fans love it when head coach Brad Berry tells his players to wear them, and they've been buying related merchandise at a brisk pace.

But it turned out that UND didn't own the trademark to 'NODAK." A business entity associated with Berry's daughter did, and that created the appearance of a conflict of interest. The business entity has since transferred ownership of the trademark to the school , but is that really the end of this issue?

UND President Andrew Armacost joined this episode of Plain Talk to discuss the situation.

He said that the trademark was transferred to UND, and that no money or other inducements were part of the deal. He said he first learned about the issue through a fraud hotline tip to the North Dakota University System head office, though the issue gained public notoriety after I wrote about it earlier this week.

Armacost said he hasn't spoken to Berry about his involvement, if any, in the formation of the business entity or the registration of the trademark. Asked if UND planned any further review of the matter to ensure that policies promoting ethics, and prohibiting conflicts of interest, had been followed, Armacost said the matter was "resolved" by transferring the trademark.


That ended the conflict, he argued.

He also said that he wouldn't call on Berry to address the public about what participation he had, if any, saying that he would do the same with any other university employee in similar circumstances.

"That'll be for Coach Berry to make a determination," he said, meaning that the public won't know what the intent was in registering this trademark, or what the involvement
of Berry, one of North Dakota's most highly paid public servants, was unless Berry himself, or someone else involved with the trademark, speaks out.

As for why the university didn't trademark "NODAK" previously, Armacost said it was the opinion of their legal counsel that the school's prior use of "NODAK" established their rights to it, but admitted that in "hindsight" the school should have acted.

"We could have protected it and avoided this altogether," he said.

If you'd like to be alerted when new episodes of Plain Talk, click here to subscribe (it's free!) or search for Plain Talk on your favorite podcast service.

Click here to subscribe to the Plain Talk Podcast!
"When you're 5 years old, you believe in Santa because you think he's real. When you're 10 years old, you believe because you want to," Cramer said on this episode of Plain Talk.
"A bill before the Legislature in Bismarck ... would remove from the North Dakota Game and Fish Department their authority to regulate deer baiting. ... This is foolishness."
"You could hear an audible groan in the chamber," one lawmaker told me shortly afterward. "Absolutely embarrassing."
Bochenski says the president of UND told him that Chinese students and faculty feel "uncomfortable." Also, a state veterinarian weighs in on controversy around deer baiting.
"Some of Fargo's leaders would have us believe they're fighting gun violence. But they're not. They're wasting our time fighting over something that wasn't a problem in the first place."
"North Dakota's lawmakers could help reduce property insurance premiums, and take away some upward pressure on property taxes, by giving the state's fire departments back their full funding."

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
What To Read Next
Bills in the ND Legislature are aimed at banning books at local libraries, telling cities how they must hold elections, telling universities what they can’t teach, and telling school districts to teach fetal development.
Bidding Minnesota farewell over an extreme law
"If we are unwilling to admit that the racism exists in our power structures, people of color will continue to pay a deadly price."
We could all use a good laugh to start out the new year.