'THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH, DECEMBER 22, 2007
'THE player who introduced the famous "vicht" salute to world tennis is outraged that Lleyton Hewitt has adopted the trademark, standing to make millions from it.The former Wimbledon champion is understood to have pounced on the rights to the distinctive celebratory gesture after former Swedish pro Niclas Kroon inadvertently let it lapse.
Kroon, 41, and former world No1 Mats Wilander held the rights from 1988 and often used the signal when they won a point or game.
Broadly meaning "for sure", it is now widely used by athletes from other sports, including Australian swimmer Grant Hackett.
"I wish he had called me first," Kroon said from Houston, Texas.
"I don't know what to say. It's all about business and making money. I'm so sick and tired of sh-- like that.
"He's surrounded by people who are probably going to make money from this.
"The thing about using the word 'mate' in Australia ... it probably doesn't sound so good any more."
Kroon conceded the trademark may have lapsed several months ago when his father, who handled all his business affairs, died.
"My dad just passed away and I haven't got the papers here, but I'm going to check all this out in the next few days," Kroon said.
He believes Hewitt's advisers were aware the trademark due date was looming and waited to see whether it would be renewed before pouncing.
It's not the first time people have tried to claim use of the signal, which he and brother Michael first started using when playing games in the 1970s.
"We were fighting with some people in Sweden a long time ago," he said.
"But Mats and I had the patent. We were paying (the fees for the trademark) even though we weren't using it.
"I've been doing stuff with it for years, even here in the States, for a small market. It's funny that it (Hewitt's move) happened now, because I was just about to launch it here in the US and put it online within half a year."
Kroon said he had planned to launch a boutique brand of vicht clothing at a tennis and fitness club in Houston. Eventually he intended to market the brand more widely because of its popularity - similar to golfer Greg Norman's famous shark logo.
Kroon, a popular tennis journeyman who won an ATP title in Brisbane and reached a career-high ranking of 46, said he recalled Hewitt using the gesture at the 2004 Masters Cup in Houston.
"He said it was Mats Wilander who started it, but a friend I was with told him that I was the one who started it," Kroon said.
"Every time he was walking off the court during his game I'd do the vicht sign and he'd be responding. We were doing it for fun, there was no big deal."
Kroon said he would consult lawyers over his rights.
"We paid a hefty amount to get the rights years ago but back then Wilander was on top of the world, making money out his bum and not thinking about the future," Kroon said.
"Neither was I. You're living in a dream world on tour so you don't think about making money from something like that."
Hewitt's manager David Drysdale said the gesture and the accompanying "C'mon" was widely known as "doing a Lleyton".
"It's unique to him," he said.
Hewitt has already begun wearing clothing with a stylised vicht signal. It is understood to be part of a major marketing push by his team and will involve casual and sports shirts and shorts'.
***** AND THAT'S JUST ONE OF THE REASONS WHY I NEVER LIKED LLEYTON HEWITT ( Mr Original ) *****