Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Take a public school to court...for a logo?

Recently, I was perusing the World Wide Web when I came across an article that really caught my attention.  The heading was "Copycat logos are pitting high schools and colleges in a trademark turf war", which immediately made me think, “Why in the world wouldn’t a college want to pick a fight with their supplier” I also thought that it seems like free advertisement.  I have seen several high school logos that have reminded me of an actual university and it seemed pretty harmless.  Besides, high schools all over America have copied the logos of universities for years; why is it an issue now?

From a legal stand point, the high schools can be forced to change their logo because the logos are trademarked.  By using the logo or a very similar version, the high schools are infringing on the rights of the university.  Some of the universities claim that the use of their logos by high schools are diluting the value of their logos.  The article also goes into detail  about Kansas State’s efforts to make money from high schools’ use of the KSU logo.  Kansas State actually began a program that would allow high schools to borrow their logo.  The agreement allows the school to use the logo on uniforms, signs, and stationary items.  But, if the school wants to put the logo on apparel, they must use one of the licensed vendors, who in turn pay KSU 10% royalty.

I then read this article, which proclaims that college and professional teams rarely have an issue with high school teams using their logo.  According to this article many universities just want to know which schools have ripped them off in order to keep documentation.  While other organizations have a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, such as the Minnesota Vikings. 

So, where do I stand on the issue? With the little guys.  I understand that ticket sales have been down and as a result so are athletic budgets, but come on.  If anything, the college or professional team will garner bad press for going after a measly high school that is already having financial difficulty.  It creates a picture of David vs. Goliath, and we all know that everybody roots for David.   This article in the New York Times explains that it will cost Glades Day School $60,000 to make the changes that University of Florida demands.  Many of these schools have been using the logo for years and have it plastered all over the school; there has to be a better way to resolve these issues.  Perhaps more schools should take a page out of Kansas State's book and save their reputations with the communities that surround the high schools they are attacking. 

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