High schools’ shameless logo-stealing days are over
Ordinarily you would want to side with a school over some corporate weasel trying to bully it out of its beloved mascot and logo, except that the Internet has made it abundantly clear that many schools have shamelessly stolen their beloved mascots and logos from someone else.
The Lahontan Valley News in Fallon, Nev., chronicles the consequences of logo theft in its area, starting with a school that filched its tiger logo from Towson University. Really? Towson? In Maryland?
The story notes that a “quick Internet search” will find you hundreds of examples of logo, ahem, borrowing, but you don’t have to go far beyond Douglas High, the school that took the Towson Tiger, to find schools with a very loose reading of trademark law.
Locally, Wooster (Indianapolis Colts), Damonte Ranch (Southern Methodist University), Spanish Springs (Washington State University), McQueen (Army) and South Tahoe (Minnesota Vikings) have all derived their respective primary or football helmet logos from other sources with few modifications in recent years.
Other specific sports programs both in the area and nationally have carried direct copies of college or pro team logos and fonts on their uniforms.
If you want a sense of how much ripping off happens just in Nevada, without a casino necessary, check out this site of Nevada high school football helmets. What’s stunning is how few schools didn’t rip off Iowa, USC, Florida, SMU, Missouri, Virginia Tech, Michigan and the New England Patriots.
Here you can see Tom Brady in the Patriots’ throwback uniforms… oh wait, that’s the Liberty Patriots of Hendersonville, Nev.
The Lahontan Valley News points the foam finger at Collegiate Licensing, the trademark arm of the NCAA, for going after the local schools, who seem like pretty easy targets. Here is Douglas High Principal Marty Swisher on finding out his school with a scofflaw:
“The letter came as a surprise to us,” Swisher said. “We weren’t making any substantial profit off the logo, we’re 2,500 miles away from the school in question and we’re obviously not in competition with Towson. The boosters sold merchandise with the logo the past few years, but that money goes right back into the athletic program.
“But the law is the law.”
Yes, the law doesn’t say, “Steal any trademark you want as long it’s at least 2,500 miles away, and isn’t in competition.” Damn the law!
Fortunately for these schools, the NCAA and other trademark-holders tend to pat their simpleton heads and tell them they can use the logo until the uniforms wear thin. Literally, not in the eyes of trademark holders.