Just in time for the Apple Cup, devoted Huskies can now purchase something that Cougar fans have been able to buy for a couple of years now: an automobile license plate printed with a backdrop entirely in the school’s colors.

The purple plate, with a metallic-gold W on the left side, replaces the previous design, which included a purple W and a faint outline of the school seal.

It’s similar in design to the WSU plate, which is all crimson, with the school’s trademark WSU lettering in the form of a screaming cougar on the right side. WSU introduced its red plate in January 2012.

“We’ve actually been trying for a really long time to get a purple plate,” said UW spokeswoman Jean Hayes. The issue had to do more with safety than aesthetics — Washington Department of Licensing tests had to show that the plates were readable by traffic cameras, and making purple work was a challenge.

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The plate is available for between $27 and $67, depending on whether the driver already has a Husky plate, and not including licensing and service fees, which vary by location and type of vehicle. Of that cost, $28 is returned to the UW as a tax-deductible donation to the UW General Scholarship Fund. UW plate sales have raised $1.165 million since 2006, when the first design was launched.

Drivers do not have to wait until their current plates come up for renewal before ordering the new UW license plate, Hayes said.

In the run-up to Friday’s Apple Cup, representatives of the two schools resisted any temptation to trash-talk the other’s team.

“We love WSU,” Hayes said. “Aesthetically, it’s kind of cool to see red and purple plates that distinguish the universities. It’s just a fun way to show your school spirit.”

WSU spokeswoman Kathy Barnard emailed this restrained comment: “They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so we consider UW’s license plate initiative a compliment.”

For what it’s worth, WSU has always won the license-plate purchasing wars. As of this month, WSU has sold 17,928 plates since the Department of Licensing began offering a special WSU plate in the mid-1990s.

The UW, which started later but has a larger alumni base, has sold just 7,037.

Katherine Long: 206-464-2219 or klong@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @katherinelong.